Content reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT
It is normal at times to feel flustered or overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities. Whether you are working to maintain recovery or trying to keep up with societal expectations, life can take its toll on your emotional health. When you feel mentally unwell, having reliable techniques that you can utilize to relax is vital.
One component of mental health treatment that patients learn is how to find effective relaxation skills to calm racing thoughts. This skill is crucial as it allows individuals to relieve built-up anxiety inside the body. Luckily, there are available techniques that you can learn outside of treatment to help calm an anxious mind. These mindful coping mechanisms can be broken down into three categories, including mental, physical, and emotional techniques.
#.1 Mental Grounding Techniques
Mental grounding techniques can serve as a way to distract an anxious mind. These techniques help redirect any intrusive, distressing, or racing thoughts back to the present moment.
Use objective anchoring phrases.
Look around your current environment. Take in and express what you are seeing and experiencing. For example, you could start with your name, age, location, and time. Then, you can phrase things that are happening around the room, such as who is with you, what they are doing, and what the weather is like outside.
Come up with your own order of phrases, and use it when you feel disconnected from yourself or your environment. Some examples of phrases may include:
- Saying your name
- Saying your age
- Where you are, for example, “I am sitting in my living room.”
- What is happening around you, for example, “My cat is sleeping on the couch next to me.”
Breathing is autonomic. When we become conscious of our breathing, we can control it and shift our focus away from anxious thoughts. Draw in a few deep breaths and notice how it feels to release the air. Doing so will relax your central nervous system.
#2. Physical Grounding Techniques
Physical grounding techniques help you focus on your senses by turning your attention away from your distress and toward something physical.
Use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique.
This method encourages you to focus on your breathing while focusing on your surroundings. The technique is as follows:
- Name five things that you can see around you and use as much or as little detail as possible
- Name four things that you can touch
- Name three things you can hear
- Name two things you can smell
- Name one thing you can taste
This exercise will help direct your thoughts back to things you have control over.
Jump into movement.
Exercise benefits more than just your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. If you are experiencing uncontrollable thoughts, consider stretching, jogging, dancing or doing jumping jacks. As you move, pay attention to how your body feels. Visualize all distress leaving your body while you exercise.
#3. Emotional Grounding Techniques
Emotional grounding techniques will help you soothe your mind and body. Utilizing emotional grounding techniques will shift thoughts to a positive and gratifying place. Such methods may include:
Envision your best self.
One proper grounding technique to shift your perspective to something positive is envisioning what you believe your best self would look like. When you think of this version of yourself, try to use realistic and achievable traits. For example, consider what strengths you would want, the type of friend you want to be, and what you would like as a career. Instead of thinking about the barriers that keep you from becoming your best self, think of what you could be doing today that brings you closer to becoming your best self tomorrow.
Think of your favorite song.
When you feel like your thoughts won’t stop racing, try listening to your favorite song. If you aren’t able to play it or sing it out loud, consider writing the lyrics down. If your favorite song isn’t a healthy or positive one, recite a song you know will lift your mood.
Practice positive self-talk and affirmations.
Positive self-talk is not always easy, but it is necessary for self-growth and healing. Examples of positive self-talk include:
- “I can do this.”
- “I believe I am more than my mistakes.”
Affirmations help restructure the brain and overcome self-sabotaging thoughts. Affirmations are phrases that you may not believe are true. However, with some faith and persistence, they may become just that. Examples of positive affirmationsinclude:
- “I release negative thoughts about myself.”
- “My self-worth is not defined by my mistakes.”
Anxiety can jeopardize your recovery, especially for those recovering from mental health or substance use disorders. At Authentic Recovery Center, we prioritize the use of holistic therapies as a way to complement your individualized treatment experience. To learn more about our facility, give us a call today at (866) 786-1376.