Keep Your Mind Grounded

Do you constantly feel your mind racing, like a train running through a million thoughts about the past, present, and future? When we struggle with anxiety or trauma, a common response is to launch ourselves on the “anxiety train,” and our mind goes elsewhere. This exercise can be used when your mind starts wandering or when you notice signs that you might be experiencing anxiety or a panic attack.

It can be difficult to differentiate between thoughts at once during these times. The goal of this activity is to fill your brain with grounding thoughts rather than allowing your mind to travel. The more you practice this, the more your body and brain will respond positively.

This worksheet comes from Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month 2021 Toolkit

Below is a sample version of the activity from the worksheet. Try it out.

Hop Off The Train

It’s difficult to achieve these results if your brain is already on the anxiety train. You must train your brain to catch itself before that happens, telling your mind “stop it!” when you feel those feelings approaching.

Stay Grounded Physically Touch can be a powerful force for keeping your mind grounded in the present.
  1. If you can find an object that you like, it can help with fidgeting and refocusing your thoughts. Keep it on hand and use it when needed.
  2. Use what’s nearby and readily available to you. Touch a fence or a wall if you’re outdoors, feel your seat or door if you’re in the car, or feel the pillow on your face if you’re trying to sleep.
How does it feel? Note characteristics such as temperature, texture, and design. Describe it in your mind or out loud in a calm, rhythmic way. Talk through it until you feel your mind and your body calm down, and feel free to combine these thoughts with affirmations like, “I’ve got this” or “I’m going to be ok.”

5 Senses

Use the following prompts to walk yourself through your environment.

  • I see _______________ (Example: “I see the wall.”)
  • I feel ______________ (Example: “I feel my toes.”)
  • I hear ______________ (Example: “I hear the cars.”)
  • I smell _____________ (Example: “I smell the dog.”)
  • I taste _____________ (Example: “I taste my drink.”)

You can talk through each of five senses. You don’t have to do them in order or do all five. You don’t even need to make sense. As long as your mind is talking through any of the statements above and not on anxious thoughts, you’re good. Try to find a calm rhythmic pattern. Talk through it until you feel your mind and your body calm down. Feel free to interrupt your thoughts with words of affirmation like, “I’ve got this” or “I’m going to be ok.”

As long as your mind is focusing on grounding yourself and not on anxious thoughts, you’ll start to feel better.

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