Grounding is a mental health technique that helps distract from unwanted memories, flashbacks or challenging emotions, and negative actions (e.g., anger, self-harm, consumption of drugs, sadness).
Grounding techniques help focus on the present by distracting your attention from what you had experienced in the past. These techniques help to create space from distressing feelings in any difficult especially if you are facing the below:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Substance use disorder;
- Substance use disorder;
- Traumatic memories;
- Self-harm impulses;
Physical techniques are the ones where you use tangible objects or five senses to help reduce your stress. These techniques are:
1. Put Your Hands in The Water
Place your hands in water and feel the water’s temperature on different parts of your hand (palms, fingertips, backside of your hands). Also, observe if you feel the same everywhere?
Use cold water first and then switch to warm water. Next try vice versa, first warm and later cold water. Feel the difference when you switch from warm water to cold and cold to warm water.
2. Touch or Feel the Items Near You
Pick up the things near you and feel whether it is hard or soft? Cool or warm? Light or heavy? Focus on the color and texture of the items. Try thinking of different colors, such as burgundy, crimson, turquoise, emerald green, instead of simple colors like red or yellow.
3. Deep Breathing Practice
Try to practice deep inhaling and exhaling for 5-10 minutes every day. Feel your lungs with fresh breath and observe your breath when you exhale it out.
4. Go for A Short Walk
Go for a short morning or evening walk. Try walking on the grass and concentrate on your steps while you walk. Observe your walk, how it feels when you walk uniformly, and feel the rhythm of your steps.
5. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method
Use your senses to observe the things around you. Start working from 5, like list down five things you see, four things you hear, three things you smell, two things you touch, and one that you can taste.
Try to enjoy the little things that you ignore. For instance, the color of your tiles, the design of your carpet, or the sound of the fan.
There are grounding exercises using mental distractions to divert your thoughts from distressing feelings and live in the present.
6. Play A Memory Game
Play a memory game alone or with your friends, e.g., look at a landscape or cityscape picture for a few seconds. Later, turn the picture and try to recreate the detailed image in your mind. You can also list all the minute detail things you have seen in the picture. It will help to distract your mind from past events and enjoy the present.
7. Think in Categories
Practice categorical thinking like choosing a few broad categories such as animals, ice cream flavors, or cricket teams. Then, list down the five to ten things from each category. It is one of the best mind games helping to distress feelings and accepts the present.
8. Recite Something
Think of a song, book paragraph, or poem you know by your heart. Recite it loudly or in your head. If you say in your head, observe the pitch of each work or visualize each word while reciting. If you say it aloud, observe the shape of your mouth and lips while reciting each word.
9. Picture Yourself Leaving the Distressing Feelings Behind
Imagine yourself living in the present and enjoying a happy life. Imagine the below to help you forget the disgraceful past:
- Practice swimming, jogging, walking, or biking to move away from the hard feelings;
- Gather all the painful emotions, create a ball of them, and close them into a tight box;
- Compare your dreadful thoughts with a TV show or song you don’t like; when you don’t like the song/show, you change the change channel, tend to ignore it, do the same with your thoughts;
10. Make Yourself Laugh
Try to distract yourself by enjoying a joyful moment. For instance, read some comic book or create a silly joke. You can also watch a comedy TV show, cartoon series, stand-up comedy, or a comedy movie you like that can make you laugh and enjoy.
When you are into emotional distress, use soothing techniques to comfort your mind and heart. These techniques will help to eliminate negative feelings and promote good feelings.
11. Practice Self Affirmations
Try to practice affirmations, repeat these affirmations, and read these positive affirmations to yourself:
- You are strong, and you can easily overcome this pain;
- Though you are having a bad time now, you’ll pass through this pain;
- You are trying your hard, but you are giving your best;
Say it in your head or aloud to yourself as many times as you want.
12. Visualize the Face or Moments Spend with One You Love
If you are feeling low or upset, try to visualize a person who inspires you the most. Imagine their presence or the time spent with that person. Imagine the person giving you motivation and inspiration to face a hard time, and you will surely get through it.
13. List Favorites
List down the favorite things such as your favorite animal, bird, ice-cream flavor, food items, movies, TV shows, and so on. Jot down all your favorite things that make you happy, make a note of them.
14. Listen to Your Favorite Music
Make a playlist of all your favorite songs and listen to the song when you feel low. Focus on the song’s lyrics, imagine yourself in the song, and chill with these songs. Pay attention to the paragraph that inspires you the most.
15. Plan an Indoor or Outdoor Activity
Plan a joyful activity either with your friend or alone. For instance, plan a movie, a meal at your favorite restaurant, a calm watch on the beach, a coffee date with yourself, or any other activity that amuses you.
Focus on what makes you happy when you go out, like how will you dress up, with whom will you go, or how will you go there.
Grounding techniques are useful tools to help you avoid distressing thoughts. But these techniques only provide temporary relief.