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Feeling Anxious? Use This Tried-And-Tested Grounding Technique (Worksheet Included)

When your anxiety gets the better of you, it's easy to succumb to spiralling thought patterns that increase feelings of stress and overwhelm. Try this simple grounding technique for immediate relief!

Isobel Robb

Illustration of a person sitting on a window sill reading from a page or tablet, with a pile of books and a plant by their feet.

A common symptom of various anxiety disorders is excessive worrying. It's very easy to get stuck in negative thought patterns that increase feelings of stress and cloud your perspective. Therapeutic approaches like CBT teach a number of self-help techniques that enable you to break free from spiralling thoughts and calm your anxiety. It's great to have a couple of these exercises to hand for the next time you feel overwhelmed.

In this post you'll learn a simple but effective grounding technique that you can use anytime your anxiety starts to get the better of you. Plus, you can scroll to the end for a handy downloadable worksheet!

What are grounding techniques?

Grounding techniques are exercises designed to put you back in the moment. When anxiety takes hold, the distress we experience pulls us out of the present and focuses all of our energy and attention on the negative aspects of what is happening. The harder we focus on these things, the more anxious we feel.

Grounding techniques are therefore designed to distract you from such distressing thoughts and feelings. Used correctly, these self-help methods can interrupt thought spirals and return you to reality.

How do they work?

Using either mental or physical cues, grounding techniques centre you in the present and serve as a reminder to focus on the here and now, rather than worrying about what might happen down the road. The exercise we've included in this post is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. It involves utilising your physical senses to refocus your mind. Before we get to the worksheet, here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of grounding techniques:

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique

This technique encourages mindfulness and provides relief from feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. You can do it in your head, or use the worksheet below to write down your answers. If this is your first time doing the exercise, writing your responses can be particularly effective. With practice, though, you will be able to complete the grounding technique without needing anything to hand.

The preview below explains how this method works, and you can use the button at the end to download and print a copy for yourself.

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