Grounding exercises combined with diaphragmatic breathing will help to reduce anxiety and change your emotional state. Below are examples of techniques that may help to distract you from what you are experiencing emotionally and allow you to shift your focus to what is actually happening in the present moment – helping you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Grounding Exercise to Prevent Panic Attacks:

Step 1

  • When seated, push both feet into the ground. If walking, imagine a root growing from the bottom of your feet and connecting you to the earth. You do not need to walk differently, just imagine the connection.
  • Feel muscles in your calves, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Take at least 4 diaphragmatic breaths.

Step 2 (Choose 1)

Five Senses:

Look slowly around the room.

What do you see?
What do you smell?
What do you hear?
What do you taste?
What do you feel?

Colors:

Look slowly around the room.

Name 5 items of any color (blue).
Name 4 items of another color (red).
Name 3 items of another color (green).
Name 2 items of another color (white).
Name 1 item of another color (yellow).

Square:

Ground feet and look in the top left corner of the room and breath in. Slowly guide your gaze to the top right corner of the room and slowly exhale. Next, guide your gaze to the bottom right corner of the room and inhale. Slowly guide your gaze to the left lower corner of the room and exhale. Repeat until feeling grounded.

Butterfly:

Cross arms and place hands on opposite upper arms as if hugging yourself. Slowly tap one arm and then the next. Repeat and breathe slowly until calm. This can also be done on your lap by crossing arms and placing hands on opposite thighs. Slowly tap one leg and then the next. Repeat and breathe slowly until calm.

State Change Exercises to Lift a Depressed, Anxious, or Overwhelmed Mood:

These state change suggestions can all easily be combined with diaphragmatic or square breathing techniques – you may find adding the breathing expedites the helpful results. Here are some examples to choose from.

Feeling Water Sensations
  • Take a shower- notice warm water first and then shift to cold water and continue while breathing slowly.
  • Put hands in water or splash water on your face- notice warm water first and then shift to cold water and continue while breathing slowly.
  • Hold ice- what does it feel like in your hand? How does it feel as it begins to melt? This is a helpful one if you are in a public location but have access to ice.
Touch Items Near You
  • Are the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool?
  • Focus on the texture and color of each item.
  • Try touching something soft or furry or playing with a fidget.
  • Notice the texture of the clothing on your skin or hold a favorite blanket or scarf.
Savor a Food or Drink You Enjoy
  • Take small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy.
  • Let yourself fully taste each bite.
  • Think about how it tastes, the temperature of the bite/sip, notice the aromas, and focus on the flavors.
Enjoy Different Scents
  • Experiment with fragrances you find appealing.
  • Try natural oils, a scented candle, favorite soap or spice.
  • Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply. This can be combined with diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Be mindful of the qualities of the fragrance.
  • Does it smell sharp, spicy, sweet?
Move your Body
  • Go for a short walk. You may choose to count steps or focus on your feet and they step and ground to the earth. Feel your feet connected to the earth.
  • Try stretching or a brief exercise – Jumping jacks, push-ups, skipping rope, jogging-in-place, or dancing.
  • How does the floor feel against your feet/hands?
  • Engage in your favorite physical exercise…jogging, biking, weight training, yoga
Listen to Noises
  • Take notice of your surroundings.
  • What do you hear? Is there a dog barking, a car driving by, people talking?
  • Take notice and let the sounds remind you of where you are.
  • This can be combined with naming colors/ items in your space.
Engage in Laughter
  • Recite a funny joke.
  • Make yourself laugh by watching a funny show, video, or meme.
  • Listen to a funny podcast
  • Recall a funny memory
Recite Anchoring Phrases
  • This may be an I statement such as…
    • My name is _______. I am ______ years old. Today is (day and date).
      I am seated (where), I feel (calm), I see (the sunshine). I am (breathing)
Imagine Positive Visualizations
  • Visualize someone positive in your life.
  • What does their voice sound like?
  • What positive statement would they say to you?
  • Visualize their face. Are they smiling? Do they look peaceful?
  • How do you feel when thinking about this positive person?
Lose Yourself in Music
  • Listen to calm music when feeling angry or irritable.
  • Happy music can shift a sad emotion.
  • Try singing your favorite song or a song sung to you when you were younger.
  • Maybe choose to listen to guided relaxation/ meditation to shift a mood.
Get Artistic
  • Work on a favorite hobby
  • Play your favorite musical instrument
  • Write in your journal
  • Knit, color, draw, bead, paint
  • Search for an interesting recipe and create the item or bake a favorite dessert.
Sit with Your Pet
  • Animals can add calm, acceptance, and love.
  • Pet your animal, take them for a walk, hold your animal.
  • Focus on how your pet feels to the touch.
  • Notice how calm your pet is behaving in your presence and with a gentle touch.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
  • Say helpful phrases either aloud or in your head…
    • “I am doing my best.”
    • “I am strong and will move through this pain.”
    • “I am having a rough time, but will make it through this.”
    • “I deserve love and am loveable.”
    • “No feeling is final and I can learn from this.”

I recommend you make a list of the state change and ground exercises you find to be most helpful and add personalization. Add the name of your pet, your favorite scent, most helpful grounding exercise, and most powerful positive self-talk statement, and have the personalized list at hand when feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, or anxious.

If you need more customized strategies and are living in Arizona, please reach out to me at (602) 329-0483 to schedule a one-on-one session!