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Anxiety is a huge problem these days.  There are tons of ways therapists can teach you to overcome these difficult feelingsOne of the most popular is the use of grounding techniques- or “earthing” as it is sometimes called.

The reason for its popularity is because grounding techniques for anxiety do just that- ground you back from those heightened anxiety states.  It’s important to learn to effectively utilize grounding when your preventative measures have not worked.

Health Benefits of Grounding

Though grounding techniques for anxiety is an under-researched topic, there are emerging results that show positive effect.  Some of these health benefits include reduction of pain, depression, stress, and fatigue.

In my experiences with grounding, I’ve also found some added benefits.  For example, when I’m in meetings, it’s not uncommon for me to utilize various grounding techniques to enhance my concentration.

Reasons Grounding Exercises work for Anxiety

We are able to train our central nervous system with practice.  But why does grounding work in the first place?

We often become distracted by negative thinking triggered by a number of reasons. Grounding exercises work by refocusing your attention to the present.

Over the course of multiple iterations, you can develop quick responses to heightened anxiety by using any of our 5 senses.  In relying upon our nervous system, we are able to basically snap out of our negative thoughts.  

In development of this skill, it’s not uncommon to find several earthing techniques that do not work well for you.  That’s OK.  Keep Trying! 

The theory is solid and you will find a handful that will work!

Signs That You Need to Ground Soon

We all experience anxiety differently.  And learning how you experience anxiety is critical to knowing when to practice grounding.

There is about 7 criteria that are commonly associated with anxiety.  Your task is to learn exactly how your body holds it. 

Generally, your body will begin to experience anxiety before your mind feels it.  So pay close attention to whether you have a clenched jaw, restlessness, agitation, or other symptoms.  These are telltale that you need to stop the escalation of anxiety symptoms.

Want to learn how to defeat your anxiety using a systematic and scientific approach catered to your individual experience?  Let me show you how!

50 Top Grounding Techniques for Anxiety

Without further delay, here are the top techniques to overcome those anxious moments.  You will find these techniques organized by their specific sensory focus.  Each technique also has a ball park “Time until Effective” measure. 

The aim of this is to give a suggestion as to how long to wait before you can expect some results.  It’s not to indicate completion of the activity. 

Body Focused Techniques

1. Snap Self with a Rubber Band: Find yourself a rubber band and snap yourself.  Keep in mind that there are some areas of your body more sensitive than others.  Use those more sensitive areas for really intense moments.

Time until Effective: 1-3 minutes

2. Take a Cold Shower: This technique is pretty self-explanatory.  With a colder shower, you can expect a quicker re-orientation back to present.  This is very effective for intense anxiety.

Time until Effective: 3-5 minutes

Cold Showers are an effective use of grounding techniques for anxiety

3. Roll Pebble between Fingers: Technically, this doesn’t have to be a pebble.  But find something similarly small.  Roll it between your fingers taking note of its shape, texture, and pressure.  This allows your mind to pull away from any other thoughts.

Time until Effective: 3-5 minutes

4. Do Push Ups: This is a great way to exert tons of energy.  It is a highly intensive exercise that absolutely will crush your anxiety.

Time until Effective: 1-3 minutes

5. Do Sit Ups: We aren’t all upper body specimens.  The same ideas applies.  Gross body motion with lots of resistance will rid any anxiety you have.

Time until Effective: 1-3 minutes

6. Be Intimate: I’m not going to get into a lot of detail here! But whether alone or with a partner, this is a fantastic way to stay in the moment and push away anxious thoughts.  The time required is highly variable for obvious reasons!

Time until Effective: Hopefully more than 1 minute

7. Hold Your Breath: Yes, I’m serious.  I’ve done this many times.  Keep focus on how long you’re able to go.  Your mind will become fixated on wanting to breathe and will move away from those anxious thoughts.

Time until Effective: 2-3 minutes

8. Play with A Pet: As I write this, I tend to think about a dog.  However, any animal will do as long as you’re able to move around and expend energy.  The companionship is also an added bonus that will release feel good neurochemicals.

Time until Effective: 10-15 minutes

Playing with your animals is a perfect way to use grounding techniques for anxiety

9. Ask for A Hug: When you embrace and share warmth and regard for another person it releases oxytocin.  With this natural chemical being released, anxiety will cease.

Time until Effective: 2-3 minutes

10. Breathe into A Paper Bag: I emphasize paper here!  Don’t suffocate yourself!  When you breathe into a paper bag, it forces you to begin controlling your breaths.  Pay attention to your inhales to fill up your lungs and exhale out to fill up the bag.

Time until Effective: 3-5 minutes

11. Play with Your Kids: If you don’t have a companion animal to play with, your kids will do just as well.  Heck, you can play with them all at once too.  As mentioned, get active.  This will release feel good endorphins and likely oxytocin as well.

Time until Effective: 10-15 minutes

12. Finish A Home Project: Depending on your level of handiness, this hopefully will not create more anxiety.  So be cautious if you’re not Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.  Completing projects can impact your anxiety in a positive way.  The key here is to not overdo it.

Time until Effective: 45-60 minutes

13. Eat A Lemon: Just thinking about this makes my mouth pucker up.  There aren’t many people who keep lemons on hand, but if you find yourself near one and your anxiety is rising, throw one back.  You’ll find that keeping it in your mouth will help rid anxiety in more intense moments.

Time until Effective: 2-3 minutes

14. Go To A Support Meeting: There are lots of meetings and support groups for people who have anxiety and other mental disorders.  Find a meeting and get out! Talk to people about your experience and learn from them too.  Support groups are an amazingly underutilized resource.

Time until Effective: 45-60 minutes

15. Do Online Therapy: The huge benefit to online therapy vs. traditional therapy is most providers online will talk to you throughout the day- every day.  I’ve personally tried BetterHelp and it was great.  I talked to my therapist every single day through text, e mail, and video calls.  If you are interested, try my 7 day free Trial to get started!

Time until Effective: 20-25 minutes

16. Go for A Hike: Get outside and experience nature. Take in the sights and raise your heart rate.  This technique is great whether with a friend or by yourself.

Time until Effective: 30-45 minutes

17. Scream into A Pillow: The trick here is to put out your frustrations that are building.  Once you let loose into the pillow, you’ll find your heart beating faster, a rush to your head, and will be easily centered in the moment.  Repeat for added benefit.

Time until Effective: 1-3 minutes

18. Clean The House: Clutter can cause tons of anxiety.  If you seem to continually notice the messy house, take action.  Tidy up your home and you’ll be actively working to overcome those anxious thoughts.  This also may make your partner super happy!

Time until Effective: 30-45 minutes

De Clutter for anxiety relief

Distraction Focused Techniques

19. Do A Crossword Puzzle: Sure- these aren’t for everyone.  But if words are interesting to you, crossword puzzles are the perfect distraction.  You can easily find crosswords in most newspapers, magazines, and other similar periodicals.  If you’ve not really tried a crossword before, now is your shot!

Time until Effective: 15-20 minutes

20. Cook A Meal: If you don’t already have the ingredients, go get them.  Follow your recipe and create a fantastic meal for yourself and loved ones.  The trick with this grounding technique is to get lost in it and have fun.

Time until Effective: 45-60 minutes

21. Hold Ice Cube in Hand: Grab hold of some ice and hold it in your hand until it is completely melted.  This is a way to really re-orient your mind towards the cold.  You really will not be able to focus elsewhere!

Time until Effective: 2-3 minutes

22. Savor Your Favorite Food: Allow yourself to experience all the flavor you can.  Really be conscientious of each morsel.  If you close your eyes while doing this, it will help you stay focused on your palate.

Time until Effective: 4-5 minutes

23. Belt out Your Favorite Song: Turn on your favorite song and sing.  It’s really that simple.  The louder you sing the more you’ll force out your anxiety.  Don’t worry about being in tune.  This isn’t a game show.

Time until Effective: 3-5 minutes

24. Count by 7s: This technique forces you to engage your mind in a fairly easy task.  Seven is the perfect number to add a degree of concentration.  Of course, if you need more difficulty, try multiplication.

Time until Effective: 1-2 minutes 

25. Video Games: This is one of my favorites.  I immerse myself into a video game and get lost in that world.  It really helps pull myself out of my negative thinking.  The trick to this technique is to find your ideal game style- RPG, shooter, adventure, etc.

Time until Effective: 15-30 minutes

26. Scenic Drive: Hop into your car and take a drive down a country road.  Take in the view and notice the season.  Of course, you also have to pay attention to the road!

Time until Effective: 15-60 minutes

27. Journaling Your Thoughts: This is easily one of my favorite grounding techniques for anxiety.  When you’re feeling anxious, begin jotting down all of your thoughts.  There is no right or wrong to how you do this.  Putting those thoughts on paper is incredibly therapeutic.  If you want a more structured way, try my colleague Heather’s workbook.  It is AMAZING and it WORKS!

Time until Effective: 5-10 minutes

This anxiety workbook will help you develop strategies to improve your daily life
Check This Out!

28. Watch A Funny Movie: When you can prompt yourself to experience an opposite emotion, you’ll find that it helps bring you to a neutral state.  With awesome streaming services like Amazon Prime, on-demand comedy is right around the corner for super cheap!

Time until Effective: 60-90 minutes

29. Crochet: This isn’t exactly technique that I’ve tried; however, I’ve heard good things about it so here it is on the list.  Crocheting can be done almost any where and allows you to really space out and let your hands create.

Time until Effective: 10-15 minutes

30. Visualize Your Earliest Memory: Close your eyes and think as far back as you can.  What is the first memory you can recall?  Relive this memory in every detail.  If your early childhood was not particularly joyful, I recommend skipping this technique.

Time until Effective: 10-15 minutes

31. Draw A Picture: You don’t have to be Picasso to use drawing as a way to stay in the moment.  You can doodle, draw realistic images, or whatever comes to mind.  In my opinion, drawing is great to enhance concentration if you’re able to listen while doing.

Time until Effective: 5-10 minutes

32. List Gratitudes: Identifying all the positive in your life can help shape your thinking.  Anxiety often comes about because of negative thoughts.  When we can contrast that negative with overwhelming positive, you’ll find relief.  It is OK to list even seemingly trivial positives.  To build momentum in positivity, you have to start somewhere!

Time until Effective: 5-10 minutes

33. Color: This isn’t necessarily a child’s activity.  In fact, there are adult coloring books that support reduction of anxiety.  They are becoming more and more popular.  So break out your colored pencils or crayons and stick between the lines.  This attention to detail keeps your focus away from anything else.

Time until Effective: 10-15 minutes

34. Write A Story: If journaling isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe writing a story is.  There are many ways to do this, which can be therapeutic.  Try creating a story where the main character is able to control his anxiety.  The more similar you can make the character to you, the better.

Time until Effective: 15-30 minutes

35. Watch Bloopers on YouTube: Don’t tell my boss, but sometimes when I’m at work, I’ll watch a few YouTube blooper videos if I’m really stressed.  Whether it is related to kids, pets, crazy antics, or whatever, bloopers are a quick win.  Simply type in bloopers into the YouTube search and you’re on your way.

Time until Effective: 5-10 minutes

36. Do a Puzzle: The more difficult the puzzle, the better.  During very high anxiety attacks, a puzzle may be quite difficult to complete.  However, if you find that your anxiety level is rising, doing a puzzle can give you a great outlet for distraction.

Time until Effective: 15-20 minutes

37. Stargaze: Clearly this will depend on the time of day you’re looking to employ grounding.  Dress for the weather and head outside.  While lying on your back, look up and take in the amazing view.  Personally, I’m always in awe of the stars with how far away they are.  It’s really incredible.

Time until Effective: 20-25 minutes

38. Play A Board Game: This may take having a partner, but it can be a great way to forget about your anxieties.  Find a game that’s not too elaborate as that can just raise the frustration and miss the point of earthing.  Therefore, I recommend staying way from Monopoly!

Time until Effective: 25-30 minutes

39. Watch The Sunrise: Everyone wants to see the sunset.  Have you ever been up early enough to see the day begin? Give it a shot.  You can easily find online when the sun will appear; if you want to add extra benefit then find a great view looking east.

Time until Effective: 15-20 minutes

40. Play Pool: During my most difficult days, pool was one of my go-to activities.  I could easily just focus on my shot, the game, and try different approaches.  This may not be easily accessible at home.  If you can find one, it’s highly worth the use.

Time until Effective: 20-25 minutes

41. Watch Clouds Pass: With this grounding technique, you don’t have to wait until the early morning or night.  Of course, dress for the weather and again lay down outside.  You can even try to make out shapes in the clouds like a modern-day Roschach Ink Blot test!

Time until Effective: 15-20 minutes

42. Experience The Outdoors: The reason I keep harping on being outside is because of the clear evidence on how it improves your well being.  Get outside and do something- anything! 

Time until Effective: 15-20 minutes 

43. Call A Friend: Check in with someone close.  In some of my tough times, I’ve given old college friends a call and reminiscing about good times and catching up really helps improve your mindset.  They don’t have to know you’re doing this to deal with your anxiety.

Time until Effective: 10-20 minutes

Relaxation Focused Techniques

44. Progressive Body Relaxation: Close your eyes and focus your mind on pushing your stress, anxiety, and frustrations from the top of your head slowly through each point in your body.  Continue this focusing on moving all the negativity downward and out the tips of your toes.

Time until Effective: 5-10 minutes

45. Meditation and Mindfulness: There is a lot of variability in how long this technique could take.  If you opt to try this, your best bet is to use a guided meditation app, which can be easily downloaded for free on your phone.  What I like about meditation, however, is it lets you become extremely relaxed while focusing on usually one idea and builds positivity.

Time until Effective: 5-30 minutes

46. Take A Warm Bubble Bath: Depending on how you manifest your anxiety, a bath can be very helpful in achieving a neutral state.  If you tend to be more restless with your anxiety, you’ll have to really be patient with this one.  Taking a warm bath is also a terrific way to treat yourself; Learn more about self-care here!

Time until Effective: 15-30 minutes

relaxing in warm bath for grounding

47. Read A Book: Curling up under the blankets and reading is both relaxing and distracting.  Find yourself a great book and double down on this method.  While you are embracing the comfort, you also can dive into another world without anxiety.

Time until Effective: 30-45 minutes

48. Get A Massage: Whether this is from a licensed massage therapist or a caring person, this technique will seriously force you to relax.  Ask them to focus on those areas where you tend to carry the most stress to get the best benefit.

Time until Effective: 20-60 minutes

49. Get A Manicure and/ or Pedicure: My wife and I have done this together, and it’s super relaxing.  Generally, we will have a drink or so during and unwind.  Many guys feel uncomfortable with this thought, but it is definitely worth a try at least once.

Time until Effective: 20-30 minutes

50. Take A Nap: Following all of these relaxing activities, you may well feel inclined to take a nap.  Turn off the lights and crawl underneath your warm blankets for a quick snooze.  This doesn’t have to even be an hours long event.  Allowing yourself to decompress has amazing benefits.

Time until Effective: 20-30 minutes

Integrate Grounding Techniques for Anxiety into Your Life

Anxiety is extremely complicated and debilitating.  Much like a physical health condition, you must learn to find effective ways to live with it.  That doesn’t mean that you’ll always be affected the same way as you are now.

Through treatment, your condition can improve.  If you’re looking to make huge gains in your anxiety, sign up for the Defeat Your Anxiety Master Class.

This class will teach you personalized ways to manage your anxiety; the same techniques I use with my clients and have used myself.

Practice Makes Perfect

As you continue your journey to mental wellness and are integrating these grounding techniques for anxiety into your life, embrace each opportunity to practice.

To get the most benefit, you must continually try and refine how you are making your anxiety improve.  If you are not working to make it better, your anxiety will not just go away on its own.

So take control of your future! Begin right now in securing a better quality of life for yourself.

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Ben Barrett

First, thank you for reading The How to Social Worker- my alter ego.  My name is Ben Barrett and am a clinical social worker and addictions counselor. My personal experiences with mental health have shaped my professional perspective. Through my struggles both personally and professionally, I hope you can improve your own quality of life.

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