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Overview: Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques are really useful when we’re feeling a bit disconnected from our current surroundings and we are caught up with our emotions and our thoughts. It’s very common to dissociate (or be somewhere else) in this way, but to perform at our best, we need to be fully engaged in what we are doing so that we can pay attention and make use of all the information available to us at that moment. Grounding techniques are also useful if we are feeling a bit anxious and fearful about stuff.
By bringing our attention back to the here and now (and especially to our body) we are focusing our attention away from thoughts which may be focused on past or future events. If we are ruminating (over-thinking) about something negative or uncertain, it can make us feel anxious or stressed. Focusing back on the present can help calm our mind and body. This allows us to be more focused on the task at hand, more able to make clear and rational decisions.
Stop and notice where your attention is focused.
If your attention is focused on things that have passed or things that might happen, ask if this is useful for you in the here and now. Is it limiting your ability to pay attention to what is actually going on within your immediate context?
Change your focus of attention with one or more of these techniques:
- Put both your feet firmly on the ground and focus on the sensation of the weight of your feet on the ground. Just notice how this feels and stay focused on your feet for 30 seconds
- Drink a glass of water and focus on the sensation of the water entering your mouth and your throat
- Use the 5,4,3,2,1 technique: think about 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch (and touch them), 2 things you can smell or like the smell of, and 1 slow, deep breath.
- Use the square breathing technique for 2 minutes
o Inhale for 4 seconds
o Hold your lungs for 4 seconds
o Exhale for 4 seconds
o Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds
- Move around, stretch, hop, do star jumps. Anything that is physical that brings your attention back to your body for 1-2 minutes
- Carry a grounding object – a pebble, a piece of blue-tack, a small object, anything that is small and tactile that you can have in your pocket or next to you. Pick it up and roll it around in the palm of your hand. Focus on the sensation of the object in your hand on your skin. Play with it in your hand, look at it, feel it, even smell it if you want to. Sometimes a grounding object can have personal meaning and feels comforting.
- Smells really help with grounding. This is because the part of the brain we use to smell with, is located near the part of the brain which processes our fight or flight system, associated with anxiety.
- Go to a health food shop and find an aromatic oil that smells relaxing to you. Have the smell to hand at all times so you can use it when you need to calm and ground yourself.