Grounding Techniques Can Calm Anxiety in People Who Stutter

If you’ve ever experienced a racing heart, trembling, difficulty breathing, or stomach pains while speaking, you are not alone. You might worry, “What if I stutter?” or “What will they think of me?” When you feel anxious that you might stutter, that’s your nervous system telling you that speaking in front of others doesn’t feel safe.  

People who stutter often become socially anxious and fear speaking in front of others. Although anxiety isn’t the root cause of stuttering, feeling worried that you might stutter can affect the smoothness of your speech. That nervousness and fear of speaking creates a feedback loop, leading to increased tension associated with speech.

So, how can you overcome stuttering anxiety? The key is to retrain the brain so that your nervous system sees speaking as a fulfilling and positive experience, one that leads to valuable human connection. Read on to learn two techniques to help calm your nervous system if you’re worried about stuttering.

Grounding techniques help people who stutter

Social anxiety is extremely common among adults and children who stutter. However, with the right support, you can learn to manage stuttering, reduce stress, and feel more confident in your speech.

Grounding techniques help those who stutter turn their attention away from worries associated with stuttering and focus on the here and now. These techniques help you calm your nervous system so you can participate in desired activities, such as a work meeting or social outing.

There are several grounding techniques that can help you center yourself, release tension, and calm your nervous system. Here are two of them:

1 Body awareness

Focus on your body and the sensations you’re feeling during each step of this technique. Feel free to practice while sitting or standing.

Step 1: Take 5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Place your feet flat on the ground and wiggle your toes a few times while noticing the sensations in your feet. Stomp your feet on the ground and pay attention to how your feet and legs feel as you touch the ground. 

Step 2: Make fists with your hands, then release the tension, doing this 1 to 2 times. Press your palms together, pressing harder as you hold it for about 15 seconds. Notice any tension in your arms and hands.

Step 3: Rub your palms together and focus on the sound and warm feeling you create. Stretch your arms over your head toward the ceiling or sky and hold for 5 seconds. Feel your spine elongate.

Step 4: Once you relax your arms, roll your shoulders back to relax them. Take another 5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the calm feeling throughout your body.

2 Mental exercises

Mental exercises can help you distract your mind from uncomfortable thoughts and feelings by shifting your focus to something else. This type of activity is discreet and easy to do anywhere, anytime. It may take some time to figure out what works best for you, but here are some ideas:

  • In your mind, name everything you see, or pick one object and describe it. 

  • Mentally explain how to do an activity you know well (such as cooking your favorite meal).

  • In your mind, name all your family members, their ages, and their favorite things to do. 

When to use grounding techniques for stuttering

You can use grounding techniques whenever you feel worry, anxiousness, or fear around talking and stuttering. There is no right or wrong way to practice centering and grounding. You simply need to notice the present moment and bring your mind into the here and now.

More techniques to calm fear and anxiety around stuttering

A speech-language pathologist, also known as a speech therapist, can help you learn more grounding techniques and new skills that break the cycle of anxiety and stuttering. In speech therapy, you’ll learn how to feel more confident and handle the emotions and thoughts that can make stuttering more likely. Your speech therapist will also teach you ways to advocate for yourself as a person who stutters.

If you're ready to get started with speech therapy, Expressable can help. After a free consultation with one of our speech therapists to learn more about your goals, Expressable will match you with an experienced speech therapist based on your needs, location, and availability. You can get started by scheduling a consultation phone call here!

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