GROUNDING: A technique to reduce anxiety in the moment

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By Lauren Kolacki

The more we understand our anxiety and can name what emotions are causing it at any given moment, the more capable we will be to help our Self. While education on anxiety doesn’t make it go away, it does make it less scary and more predictable.

We all know anxiety is uncomfortable. And we all experience anxiety in different ways. Some people feel jittery, some people feel it in their stomach or intestines, some people feel it in their heart area. Some people feel it in their head in the form of dizziness, headaches, fogginess, confusion and more.

Below are times we can anticipate feeling some anxiety:

When we give up using a defense in favor of dealing with the underlying emotions. For example, let’s say I typically avoid (defense) asking for what I want but decide I really would get more from life if I asserted my needs. The first few times I ask for what I want, I will likely have a spike in my anxiety.

Core emotions that we are not used to arise. For example, if I am frightened of my anger but try to feel it in my body, I will likely get anxious and experience some sort of physical tension or constriction as my anxiety tries to squash or constrict my anger.

When many core emotions or inhibitory emotions or conflicts arise, I am likely to experience anxiety. Again, my mind is trying to block the whole upsetting experience and anxiety is the signal.

Core Emotions

When you feel overwhelmed and anxious try this simple quiet practice that you can do anywhere in public or private:

1. Shift from thoughts or images from the past or future to being in the present moment. By sensing your feet on the ground. Literally and immediately focus on the soles of your feet, feeling the ground with them. This is called grounding. It is as simple as feeling your feet on the oor. If you want to do more, go to step 2.

2. As you sense your feet on the ground, take 5 or more slow, deep breaths using belly breathing.

3. Without casting judgment, but radically accepting what you find, try to name each core emotion under the anxiety. Don’t search for logical thoughts. Instead, search your emotional world which is in your core or rest of your body. Literally ask your Self, “Am I sad?” “Am I angry?” “Am I scared?” “Am I disgusted?” “Am I joyous?” (Yes, Joy can cause anxiety!) “Am I excited?”

4. Name and validate each emotion you find. There can be more than one emotions and often there is when anxiety is very high.

Remember that listening to your body and connecting with yourself is the most important way to reduce your anxiety.