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Manage Your Anxiety by Grounding to an Object

Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

In my previous blog, Manage Your Anxiety by Grounding to Your Environment, I explained how to manage anxiety by grounding to your current environment. However, this method may not work for you. You might struggle to focus on your environment, you may be in an environment that lacks sufficient stimuli, or your environment itself may be anxiety provoking. Another option is to achieve grounding by using a physical object.

This object can be anything that you can get your hands on. It can be something that is already in your environment or something that you carry around with you. The same principle applies as when you are grounding to your environment. You are refocusing your brain on the present moment by using your senses to focus on an object.

Try these steps to ground to an object:

1. Sight: Look at your object and notice as many details about it as you can. Act as if you have 2 minutes to memorize this object before it will be taken away and then you will be quizzed on all of its visual details.
2. Sound: Does your object make any noise? If so, listen closely to the sound. How would you describe it? You might have to move or manipulate the object to make a noise. Try tapping it with your finger or moving it around and listening to that sound.
3. Scent: Breathe in the aroma of your object. What does it smell like? If smell is one of your primary senses, you will need to make sure that your chosen object has a fragrance. You can choose an object that already has a fragrance or you can dose your object in aromatherapy oils, perfumes, cologne, or other fragrances.
4. Touch: Notice every aspect of what your object feels like on your skin. Is it rough, smooth, textured, hot, or cold? Does the way it feels change or remain the same the longer it’s in your hands? If you’re focusing on yourself as the object, you can not only touch yourself but also push your feet into the ground or your backside into the chair and notice the feeling of physical stability.
5. Taste: Does your object have a taste or can you imagine what it would taste like? My clients who gravitate toward taste as one of their primary senses will often choose an object that provides a pleasant taste such as a package of mints or a single piece of chocolate. If you are eating or drinking your object, make sure to do so slowly so that you savor the flavor.

There are many objects to choose from. In Manage Your Anxiety by Grounding to Your Environment, I discussed how you may have 1-2 primary senses. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your object. Here are a few objects that my clients have used:

• Keychains
• Small Toys
• Stress balls
• Jewelry
• Cell phones
• Coins
• Clothing
• Your Body (you can’t forget it at home!)

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your object:

• It’s important to choose an object that you actually like. Some of my clients have preferred fidget cubes (those small cubes that give you lots to do with your hands), fidget spinners, small toys from their childhood, and watches.  If you like the object, you may have more success with grounding.
• Choose an object that speaks to your primary sense(s). If your primary sense is touch, you should choose something that has a pleasant feeling to it or a variety of textures. If you are geared more toward sound, you’ll want to choose something that produces a pleasant sound.
• Make sure that you object is accessible. If you cannot transport your object or you don’t feel comfortable using it in public, you might want to consider something else. You need to be able to have your object with you and be able to use it in a public setting.

If you experience anxiety try grounding to an object. If you need help to manage your anxiety you may benefit from counseling. Symmetry Counseling provides individual, family, and couples counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment.

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