Over 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety, and it is one of the most commonly experienced mental illnesses in the country. It’s no wonder that rates of anxiety are so high when American hustle culture encourages a fast-paced, no-excuses way of living.
When your body struggles to manage all the stresses of daily life, it’s important to keep tools in your back pocket that will help you to self-soothe. Here are 5 grounding techniques that will help you calm your body so that you can better cope with anxious thoughts.
1. Box Breathing
Anxiety can’t exist in a calm body, so it’s important to do everything you can to relax your body in times of distress. Box breathing is a practical way to slow your heart rate and take control of your breathing. You simply inhale for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and then take 2 regular breaths before continuing the cycle again.
2. Gratitude List
Gratitude is a great way to combat the lies that anxiety tries to tell you, such as, “you’re not good enough” or “you’ll never be capable of achieving what you want.” Instead, you can fight those lies by saying what you appreciate about yourself and about the world around you. Be specific- detailed thankfulness requires a lot more focus and will help keep your thoughts on track with the truth.
3. Heighten Your Senses
When you’re anxious, your body often becomes overstimulated by small things that wouldn’t typically bother you. If you feel like all of your senses are heightened by panic, you can turn that symptom around by using it to take note of what each of your senses is experiencing at that moment. Take the time to put things that you taste, smell, hear, see, and feel into words. This helps keep your mind connected with your body instead of running away into a world of intrusive thoughts.
4. Listen to Your Body
When your body is experiencing a rush of fear, there is often a form of physical self-soothing that you’re naturally inclined to want to do. For instance, you might feel the urge to curl into a ball and hug your knees or to lay on the ground. There’s no shame in listening to your body when it’s telling you it wants to soothe itself by sitting in an otherwise unconventional position.
5. Tell a Friend
Sometimes when you’re anxious, intrusive thoughts become too overwhelming to combat yourself. Find a friend you trust to reach out to when you’re becoming overwhelmed that can help speak the truth to you and fight the lies bouncing around your brain. Try to reflect with them about what kind of encouragement helps bring you peace in moments of high stress and panic.
If you are struggling with anxiety, contact a licensed professional to help you in your healing journey. This online assessment can help you find out more about anxiety disorders and get in contact with counselors in your area.