Grounding Techniques Proven To Dissolve Anxiety
Whether it’s the unexpected death of a family member, a relationship ending without warning, or apparent job security up and vanishing, any sudden change is sure to leave a few scars.
Here are four embodied practices to help you handle change better:
- Practice physical awareness. When change strikes, it’s easy to let your mind spin out, worrying about what the uncertain future will bring. But these what-if fears are like paying interest on a debt you don’t owe. Mindfulness meditation, a practice of "presence focused awareness", has been shown to diminish anxiety. Rather than trying to corral worrisome thoughts directly, you can work with sensations in your body to calm your nervous system.
- Get physically grounded. Stress can cause you to sense that a situation is just too much to handle. Grounding is another term for centering - rooting yourself in the here and now. Many practices teach a grounding visualization of growing tree roots into the earth, but connecting to sensory information from your feet (rich in nerve endings, like your fingertips) adds an additional layer of physical stability.
- Release unnecessary tension. Stress and tension are inherently linked. Whenever you face a perceived threat—such as impending financial instability, an unexpected change in relationship status, or a major health event—your body prepares to fight the danger. Operating out of fight-or-flight causes you to react first and ask questions later. But settling your nervous system and bringing you out of this reactionary state can be as simple as releasing unnecessary tension - bringing you back to center.
- Cultivate balance. Sometimes language reflects physical reality, as it does when we say that we’ve been "knocked off center." We might mean it metaphorically, but literally centering your body can actually improve your capacity for handling change. Your brain’s muscular coordination center is linked to executive function—a set of mental skills that helps you manage time and get things done. Balance and coordination exercises have been shown to improve working memory because they force you to adapt to changing terrain and environments.