Grounding Techniques for PTSD and Anxiety

Anxiety and the affects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause a type of stress that usually falls into one of three categories: physical, mental, or emotional. If you are experiencing a panic or anxiety attack you may feel numb, strained, or dissociated. It could be hard to keep your thoughts focused, you may be easily overwhelmed and your emotions may feel flat or fluctuate rapidly. Depending on what you’re experiencing, “grounding” techniques can help you to recenter yourself , regulate your senses and come back into the present moment. The term “grounding” refers to a self-soothing technique that reorients you to the here-and-now. Focusing on the five senses; sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste can help redirect you. Try some or all of these sense-based exercises when experiencing extreme panic, stress or disorientation:

List what you’re experiencing when you begin to get overwhelmed.
– Five things you hear.
– Four things you see.
– Three things you can touch from where you are.
– Two things you can smell.
– One thing you can taste.

Focus on what is around you, one sense at a time.
– What am I hearing right now? Whatever sounds are closest to you.
– What do I see? What you can see directly in front of you.
– What do I feel touching against my body or skin? What you are currently touching from where you stand.
– What do I smell? What scent is most prominent near you.
– What do I taste? What taste you have at the current time.

Recalibrate your senses by resetting or shocking your system.
– Sight: look at your favorite color, art piece, or sight.
– Sound: put on some of your favorite podcasts, music, or movies.
– Touch: put your hands, feet, or face into something textured or a different temperature, such as cold water, a grainy substance, or on a soft fabric.
– Smell: light a candle, sage, or turn on an oil diffuser, then inhale deeply.
– Taste: Savor something sweet, sour, or salty.