Grounding Techniques to Get Rid of Anxiety Fast

Dr Aneesa Shariff, Clinical & Counselling Psychologist,

Dr Aneesa Psychology

Posted 30.07.2023

running water over hands grounding technique for anxiety

Anxiety can be a very intense experience, especially when it comes on suddenly or out of the blue. When the brain goes into fight/flight mode, a number of physical changes happen very quickly in the body to prepare to quickly run away or stay and fight off a perceived threat. This is an in built response for all of us, and is a really helpful one if we are faced with a bear in the forest or another situation that immediately threatens our survival. But if this fight/flight “alarm” becomes faulty, it can go off at the wrong times, when there is no threat. When this happens, panic attacks or anxiety attacks can occur. While these episodes are not medically dangerous, they can be incredibly scary in the moment and make you feel like you are going crazy, having a heart attack, or going to faint or do something else out of your control.

 Common Panic Symptoms

  • Loose bowels or indigestion
  • Shallow and rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations or racing heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Clammy palms
  • Sweating
  • Tingling in the arms and/or legs
  • Racing thoughts
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Chills or hot flushes

The next time you feel that wave of anxiety washing over you and threatening to take over, try some of these grounding techniques to bring you back to a calmer state. The trick is to try different ones and find what works for you, and to implement the techniques as soon as you feel the anxiety coming on. Too often, my clients become frustrated when techniques have not worked, not because they are not effective, but because they haven’t caught the anxiety early enough. Once you are in full panic mode, even anxiety relieving medication will likely not work!

Grounding Techniques

  1. Square Breathing: Visualise a square in your mind and inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale to the count of 4, hold for 4, and repeat.
  1. 54321- Look around you and name for yourself 5 things you can see around you right now, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can physically touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. You may not think of the required number of things, that’s OK! The effectiveness of this technique is about connecting to your 5 senses and forcing your attention outwards rather than inwards on yourself.
  1. Repeat some positive coping thoughts that hold meaning for you, such as: “This will pass, this feeling is temporary”, “I am safe, there is no danger here”, “I can get through this”
  1. Splash cold water on your face, wrists, put an ice pack on the back of your neck to help reset your nervous system quickly
  1. Self soothing activities: do something calming and kind for yourself, such as making a warm soothing drink, wrapping yourself in a soft blanket, smelling some soothing essential oils in a diffuser, listen to some calming music, or try some mindfulness adult colouring books

If you have tried to manage your anxiety yourself and are still struggling, it may be helpful to contact an anxiety specialist, such as a clinical psychologist, who can work with you to develop a bespoke treatment plan to conquer your anxiety.

About the Author

Dr Aneesa Shariff is a highly experienced dual qualified Clinical and Counselling Psychologist at Dr Aneesa Psychology.psychologist for high achieving

Dr Aneesa Psychology aims to provide evidence based, specialist psychological services that you can trust. As scientist- practitioners and Clinical psychologists, Dr Aneesa is committed to providing the highest standards of care in an emotionally safe environment. She is skilled in multiple therapy models and committed to ongoing training and supervision to stay innovative and effective in her work. Dr Aneesa provides individually tailored therapy in a non judgemental, compassionate, and collaborative space for you to feel understood, respected, and comfortable.

To work with Dr Aneesa, please contact her directly via the Dr Aneesa Psychology website:

Instagram: @aneesashariffphd

Blog post originally posted on  Dr Aneesa Psychology website, and reposted with permission from Dr Aneesa Shariff.

clinical and counselling psychologist leeds anxiety

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