5. Ground yourself. When anxiety hits, ”do something tangible,” says John Tsilimparis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Pepperdine University.
“Take your house keys out, run your fingers along the keys,” says Tsilimparis. “That sensation will give you ‘grounding.’ Pick up a paperweight, hold it in your hand. Or, get an ice cube. Hold it as long as you can do it.”
Why does this work? “Your brain can’t be in two places at once,” he says. The activity distracts you from the anxious feelings. “Your mind will shift from racing, catastrophic thoughts [that accompany anxiety] to the cold ice cube in your hand,” he says.
According to some research, using a virtual reality distraction system can reduce anxiety during dental procedures. Patients immersed in VR — a computer-generated realistic environment — reported less pain and anxiety than when they didn’t use it.