If you’ve done any exploration into managing your anxiety, you’ve probably come across these two words – mindfulness and grounding. Often, these terms are used interchangeably. Though they are similar, there is a subtle difference, and it can be helpful to know it. Let’s explore what these terms really mean and how they can be used to help manage anxiety.
MINDFULNESS – The Larger Concept
Put simply, mindfulness is “the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present-moment experience without evaluation.” It is the process of becoming fully aware of the here and now, simply observing our current experience while withholding judgement on what we find. In mindfulness, we might observe our current emotional state, physical state, or both. Originating in Eastern philosophies, it is often tied to meditation practices. However, mindfulness can be as simple as purposely engaging all your sense when you are eating or pausing to listen to the words of your favorite song, noting your emotional engagement with it.
GROUNDING – Mindfulness Adjacent
While grounding is also a technique that serves to bring attention to the present moment, its purpose is more applied. Grounding is a technique to center us in the safety of our own bodies when experiencing intense anxiety or overwhelming feelings. It can be useful during anxiety attacks to bring us back to the reality of the present. Anxiety often has us worrying about past or future events at the expense of enjoying what is happening to us now. Grounding is something that can be used to get around that, even if temporarily.
PRACTICING Mindfulness and Grounding
- Choose a couple techniques to focus on, and then add more once you are comfortable with those. Here’s a list of mindfulness/grounding techniques to give you some ideas!
- Practice them often! I tell my clients to practice them when you DON’T need them. Otherwise, they won’t be common enough practice for you to remember. Find small times to add mindfulness practices, like waiting in line at the grocery store or eating lunch. It doesn’t have to be long, just enough to access the here and now!
- Keep your expectation balanced. The goal is not to get RID of the feelings of anxiety, but to give you a break or the opportunity to cope with them better. I often compare anxiety to a whirlpool of thoughts that we get caught up in. Mindfulness and grounding doesn’t stop the whirlpool. However, it does give you a solid rock to cling onto to keep you from drowning!
- Plan a “mindfulness excursion.” In a past blog, I shared some family-friendly trips in the Kansas City area where you can get out and practice some mindfulness.
If you need help learning more skills or managing your anxiety, reach out to a professional counselor. We at Heartland Therapy Connection would love to help you navigate the difficult emotion of anxiety. Give us a call today at (816) 287-0252 to set up a session with one of our qualified therapists!