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For a whole lot of reasons, our minds can get the better of us and take us away from the present. Sometimes it can even be pretty scary and overwhelming. Grounding techniques are a variety of tools that can help bring us back from worries, intense emotions, or anything else on our mind by connecting with our 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, or smell. You can get creative and personalize a technique to what works for you. I'd love to hear what others have done to help them ground back to the present moment. After all, it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for you!
For me, I have a couple that I lean on. Sometimes I will go through the rainbow and identify an object around me that is every color. Or in times that I am needing something a little stronger, I will hold an ice cube for a couple of seconds which definitely gives quite the jolt to my tactile senses.
So, what are some of your favorite grounding techniques?
I have a few favourites! The thing with grounding exercises is that even if they don't entirely take away your distress but reduce it for a period of time, and that helps you cope/have a bit of a break, then they are still useful. You can use them as often as you need.
A couple that can even be deployed in a classroom/lecture hall/workplace without notice when needed. I have linked to resources below with the instructions.
Grounding Technique: 5-4-3-2-1 Technique : One of the reasons the countdown method works is that it stretches the exercise over 30s-1min which is still as short amount of time but ensures it has your focus for enough time to take effect.
Butterfly tapping/butterfly hug : watch the video to see how to do this. There is also a little diagram here. You can also do this subtly in public by alternating tapping of your feet in your shoes or hands on thighs (say when sitting at a desk). Just make sure to alternate left-right-left-right and do it s-l-o-w-l-y with calm, deep breaths. This helps reduce distress as it's actually not possible for our brains to focus on two things at once ("multitasking" is actually switching focus between the two tasks really fast) and so the calming action takes away focus from the distress/anxiety.
Another mindfulness exercise that I like is this self compassion one. I think it demonstrates how we talk to ourselves is really important, and taking a minute to deliberately think though something rather than letting the thoughts swirl can make a massive difference:
I love this question and topic, especially right now.
Above and beyond all else, I get myself outside, in contact with some kind of nature, even when the best I can do is to get outside in the city and get some fresh air and a tiny bit of green. Taking care of my plants inside can also be a way for me to do that, and I can get my hands (and my nose) into dirt by repotting them, or by carefully dusting their leaves. In the best of all possible options, I can get out and take a long walk in the forest. That gets me right and deeply grounded instantly.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
I'm a big fan of the five senses one Michaela mentioned! I've also found that working with animals (either my pets or at a shelter) tends to be really grounding, because I have to be so focused on them instead of being up in my head (I used to joke that one of the shelter dogs was my mindfulness coach because I had to stay in the moment lest she launch her whole, barrel-shaped body onto me).
Grounding!! I had such a difficult time with the whole concept because nothing I did seemed to work! Recently though, I made up something that helps me. Paint on your body with non toxic paint, all different colours. I like to do this so the different brushstrokes and colours represent my feelings in different areas of my body. Then lock the bathroom, turn on the shower to hot, and turn on music super loudly. Helps if you can add a scent (Vicks is comforting to me, I'm not sure if that's a worldwide thing, it's a kind of headache and cough balm). Then do whatever you want, lie down, dance, watch the water wash the colours away. Even clogging the drain works for me so that I can actually see the water level rising and changing colour and I can splash in it and stamp in it. It's kind of like grounding for all the senses at once, like being in a private world. Couldn't recommend it enough!
I love this topic and its responses! Also a fan of 5-4-3-2-1. And painting on your body sounds so fun! I had a friend who would do this and then lay on large sheets of butcher paper. Great way to create some unique art.
Personally, I'm a fan of literally laying on the ground! I hold all my anxiety in my upper back, so something about a hard, flat surface is always very helpful. While horizontal, I also find it helpful to hit some yoga poses like a happy baby or reclined twist to really work everything out. I agree with Elise's point that it's not always a perfect solution. But I'm always proud of myself when I take a moment to consciously calm down.