Let’s Talk: Getting Grounded
No not grounded like sent to your room from getting in trouble but grounding techniques to help you feel more in control of your feelings and your body in the moment.
Do you become so worried about the future or dwell on the past that you are struggling to manage your feelings or to do what you need to?
Grounding is a technique that helps you become aware of the present moment. The idea of becoming grounded is used in yoga, meditation, and therapy.
In therapy grounding is often used for people who are struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed/underwhelmed, having intrusive thoughts about the past, self-harm urges, reducing substance use, or are dissociated with the present moment.
Grounding can help you stay in your Window of Tolerance and stop your brain's fight, flight, or freeze response.
You want to use coping skills that increase your awareness of what is around you and your awareness of your body in the current moment. You want to utilize coping skills for your senses and your body.
12 Grounding Techniques to try
1. 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, 1 thing you taste. It is best to say these things out loud, but if you are using this technique in a public place or do not want others to hear you, you can say them to yourself.
Start by taking a deep breath and then:
5 things you See: Say out loud 5 things around you that you can see and think about some of the details about each object
I see a purple, tall cup.
I see a white desk.
I see a blue cloth basket.
I see a black floor lamp that is on.
I see a photo of a green succulent with a white frame.
4 things you Feel: Say out loud what you notice is around your body and what your body is currently touching
I feel the hard chair I am sitting on.
I feel the soft pillow next to me.
I feel my hair in a ponytail.
I feel the shoes on my feet.
3 things you Hear: Say out loud what hear is going on right around you or in the distance
I hear my breathing.
I hear talking and laughter in the other room.
I hear the song playing in the background.
2 things you Smell: Say out loud 2 smells you identify. Sometimes this can be hard. You can move around to smell things in your environment, you can pull out something like a piece of gum to smell or if you still have a hard time, no worries, just think of 2 pleasant smells
I smell the food my coworker is eating.
I smell the perfume I am wearing
1 thing you Taste: Say one thing you can taste. Taste can also be hard sometimes to identify in the moment. If there is something around you give it a taste or just imagine something you like the taste of or is a soothing taste, like a cinnamon tea.
I taste the juice I am drinking.
2. Listen to your Surroundings
Stop for a minute or five and listen to your surroundings. What do you hear? Try naming the things you hear, notice if the sounds are pleasant or unpleasant. Try to identify as many sounds and all the details of each sound.
3. Identify 10 Items in Your View
Identify and say out loud, if possible, 10 things you see around you and describe each one in detail.
4. Deep Breathing
Take 10 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, focus on each breath. You can put your hand on your stomach to increase the awareness of your breathing.
5. Take a Shower or Bath
Try taking a hot or cold shower. You can change the temperature of the water while you shower and notice how it feels when it changes. (Do not make it too hot or cold so it is uncomfortable or painful).
6. Notice Your Feet on the Floor
Look at your feet and notice if you are wearing socks, shoes, and what the floor looks and feels like. If you are comfortable you can put your bare feet on the ground to feel the texture and temperature of the ground.
7. Enjoy some food or a drink
Mind and body go together, so I would recommend a healthy snack or drink, but find something that has some flavor that you enjoy. An apple is perfect, notice if there is sweet and sour in the apple. What does it sound like when bit into the apple?
8. Put your Hands in Water
Similar to the idea of taking a shower; put your hands in different temperatures of water and notice how the change feels on your skin. You can fill 2 different bowls or run your hands under a faucet. (Do not make it too hot or cold so that it is uncomfortable or painful).
9. Hold a piece of Ice
Grab a piece of ice or an ice pack and notice how it feels in your hands. Remember if it is painful for you then it might not be the right technique for you.
10. Find the Colors of the Rainbow
Think Roy G Biv; the acronym for the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Find things around you that match the colors in that order.
11. Scan the Body
Scan your body for how it is feeling right now. Notice any part of your body that is uncomfortable or comfortable. Allowing the parts of your body that are uncomfortable to relax or just let those parts of your body know you understand they are hurting and it is ok.
12. When and Where are you
Where am I? (name as many identifiers, county, state, location)
What time is it?
What is the day of the week?
What is the date?
What year is it?
What session is it?
Grounding techniques can feel difficult, awkward, or even feel like they don’t work for you at first. Like many things in life, practice is key. Grounding techniques are coping skills you can try on your own or with a therapist.
If you would like support in learning and effectively utilizing grounding skills contact Monica
Stay tuned as I continue to dive into the different types of coping skills and encourage you to:
Monica McNeeley is a licensed therapist, LCSW, provides online therapy in the state of California. She has been providing therapy services since 2011.
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