Anxiety and grounding your body

You may understand anxiety as an excess of worry or nervousness. Symptoms can range from physical feelings like a pounding heart, nausea, sweating, tightness in the chest, insomnia, irritability or inability to focus. This may have a variety of sources and may be intermittent or focused on particular situations, events, things or people.

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When you are feeling anxious, you are probably so deep in your thoughts and possibly the reactions to the feeling (emotion of fear/dread ), that you are unaware of the actual, present moment. Beginning to identify that sensation of dread/fear or noticing your thoughts spiralling away from you, are your cues for noticing anxiety. Getting your body to turn off its response to this feeling, is one way of taking back control. You can then follow through with your mind, to calm and soothe.

There is no one size fits all solution, but getting familiar with ways of grounding your body is a good start to the process. Allowing yourself to reconnect with the here and now, is a means of letting yourself know that the dread (for future or regret for past) is not applicable in this moment. You are using your body to help turn off the response to fear.

Your central nervous system has detected a threat, and much like a smoke alarm, it needs to be convinced that it is only singed toast, not a house fire, to turn off. You may imagine your thoughts are the best place to start, but your body is actually the place to begin turning off, your smoke alarm, following through to your thoughts later. Grounding, breathing, water and calming are excellent ways to approach extinguishing the threat.

You can google grounding and find lots of strategies, but simply, you can push your feet into the ground, feel your seat against your back, legs connecting with a chair underneath you. You can stand up and shake out your limbs, dance or stamp. Smelling a strong scent like peppermint or eucalyptus gets your smell activated and wakes up your senses. Tasting a strong taste such as Mint, Licorice or Ginger is another way, or even running your hands under cold water.

If you want to go the extra mile, take up a body-based pursuit such as yoga and really notice the sensations in your body, as they emerge. Once you have reconnected with the present moment, take a minute to breathe ( nice long, deep breaths), sip some water and offer yourself some kind words for getting through.

Perhaps notice the thoughts as anxious thoughts (and not all thoughts are true) and soothe yourself, by attending to something you can see, or engage your mind in a puzzle or crossword, mediate, take five minutes to breathe deeply or walk somewhere feeling your feet, connect with the ground.

Connect with a therapist to explore and understand your anxiety and other ways to manage and regulate, practice strategies and attune to your cues for threat and safety.

Anxiety can be tamed. Why not begin today?

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Nottingham, NG5
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Written by Fiona Corbett, Accredited BACP and EMDR therapist and Clinical Supervisor
Nottingham, NG5

Fiona Corbett BACP and EMDR Association accredited therapist

I work in Nottingham with individuals,. My training is in Humanistic counselling, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, and EMDR I also offer supervision. I work with a wide range of issues.

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