Advice from Spill's therapists
Four ways tackle to anxietyUsing a pause to manage anxious thoughtsTry the RAIN exerciseRelated resources
Spill therapy reduces symptoms of employee anxiety by 74% in six weeks.

Coping and grounding techniques for anxiety

Spill's qualified therapists answer real questions from employees dealing with anxiety.

I'm struggling with anxiety and wondered if you could share some coping or grounding techniques to help me manage it better?

Our first therapist suggests...

Four ways to tackle anxiety

I’d always suggest proper therapy as the best way to address anxiety because the nature of anxious thoughts are that they undermine your confidence and belief in yourself which makes it extremely hard to manage without professional help.

The other thing that makes anxiety difficult to deal with is that we all have a tendency to try and overpower it with logic and reason — neither of which ever works because your emotional brain is far more powerful than your capacity for logical thought.

All that said, here are some things to try.

  • Don’t avoid things: as much as your anxiety will tell you that avoidance is the best way to feel better it always makes things worse in the long run. Instead of avoidance accept the discomfort of anxiety and push ahead anyway. You will find that every time you achieve something despite anxiety the anxious feelings get a little weaker.
  • Talk to someone: a therapist ideally, but if not, do share your feelings with someone you trust. If you live in an echo chamber of your own anxious thoughts they get stronger whereas sharing them tends to lighten the burden and break the cycle.
  • Journal: when you feel especially anxious or ideally every day, write a page or two of whatever is in your head. It doesn’t need to make sense but it will help to move the thoughts from within you to the outside where they will feel more manageable. Step into the feelings. Don’t turn your back on anxiety. Step towards the uncomfortable feelings and let yourself experience them for a while. You’ll find it's the fastest and most successful way through them.
  • Self-care: get enough sleep, eat healthily and regularly, get outside for some exercise every day, spend time doing things with people you love, and treat yourself with kindness and understanding. It’s hard for anxiety to thrive in powerful conditions of self-love and even if it does you’ll find it more bearable.
Therapy with Spill reduces symptoms of employee anxiety by 74% in six weeks.
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Our second therapist suggests...

Using a pause to manage anxious thoughts

What you’re feeling is natural and typical of our human brain. All anxiety occurs where there is uncertainty. We naturally fear the unknown and our brain likes to imagine a whole host of possible scenarios to make a situation more ‘certain’. However, these scenarios often aren’t very helpful and we end up feeling worse as we buy into the possibility of ‘something bad’ happening. 

You can’t stop the worry arriving, but what you do with these thoughts can be managed. Worry is just a feeling and not always a truth; we need to learn to see it but not always act on it. When this emotional thought pops in (which they do), build in a pause. This pause is crucial, and allows you space to choose what you do next. Grounding is one way to pause.

Here are some grounding techniques and other ways to pause:

  • Take five deep breaths and notice how you feel. Take five more if you need and repeat as required. Breath is the one area of our nervous system that we have power over: we can choose to calm the system by slowing it down.
  • Recite the alphabet/your name backwards
  • Notice five things around you starting with the letter ‘T’
  • Notice what you can smell, hear, see, touch
  • Feel your feet grounded into the floor or your hands on a desk, connect with your environment, and take a breath
  • Massage your hand with your thumb from your other hand and focus on the sensation
  • Press your palms together hard

The pause means you are not automatically doing what the emotional thought tells you. From here you then PIVOT and decide what to do next (this is coping). This may include strong affirmations such as:

  • I choose to let that worry go (and get on with something else)
  • I can cope (with hard things/with X)
  • I am capable (and then plan any actions that may help)
  • I don’t know what will happen but I am supported (knowing you don’t have to do this alone)
  • It’s okay thatI don’t know right now, however when the time arises I will find what I need

All of these things are practical skills and therefore take practice. The more you do, the better you get at it. There’s no magic pill or behaviour – it’s feeling fear, giving it a wink (pause) and walking forwards. You have everything you need inside of you or around you to manage this.

Spill works with fully qualified BACP- or NCS-registered counsellors with 80+ areas of expertise, including specialists in supporting anxiety.
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Our third therapist suggests...

Try the RAIN exercise

Thank you for your question. Although I am sorry to hear you are suffering with anxiety I am glad you have reached out to us for some support. If you haven’t already done so it might be useful for you to book a session with a therapist to discuss exactly how your anxiety is affecting you, so you can learn some coping techniques that are more specific for you, but I can certainly suggest a few that may help you if you decide not to do that.


Practising mindfulness is a great way to manage anxiety and one helpful exercise that may help you is what’s known as the RAIN practice:


R - Recognise what is happening i.e., that you are feeling anxious.

A - Allow the anxiety to be there without trying to ignore it or push it away; the more you try to resist the more likely it is to persist. 

I - Investigate with interest and care, becoming aware of any thoughts or events that may have caused you to feel anxious.

N - Nurture yourself with self-compassion and don’t judge. Instead use it as an opportunity to learn more about what your body and mind are trying to tell you.


There are some other things you could be doing on a daily basis that might help you manage your anxiety including reducing your stress levels as much as possible, having a good daily routine in place and talking about how you are feeling with people you trust. Anxiety is something most of us experience at some point in our lives, in fact low levels of anxiety can be great for motivation, so talking about it helps to normalise and sometimes just saying something aloud can help to reduce anxiety levels.

Finally, whether your anxiety is affecting you physically or emotionally, you can always reset your nervous system by using your breath. When you feel your anxiety creeping in trying to make your exhalation longer than the inhalation, when you are anxious it is being caused by the sympathetic nervous system and using this breathing technique will switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest / digest side) which will help calm the body and mind again.


I hope some of these suggestions work for you, and do remember that the option of speaking to a therapist is always there if you’d like more individual guidance.

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