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30 Grounding Techniques For When You're Feeling Overwhelmed | Anxiety, PTSD, & Trauma

Do you want to overcome negative emotions? Are those unwanted thoughts and flashbacks causing you discomfort? If yes, you should try ‘Grounding Techniques’.

Grounding or earthing is a technique that reconnects you with the earth, and makes you feel better while shedding all those distressing feelings. In today’s post, we’ll be discussing 30 grounding techniques to calm your worrying thoughts.

What is the “5-4-3-2-1 method”? Can a pet help? Can listen to music do you any good? We’ll be talking about all of these and more...

Let’s start by talking about some ‘Physical Techniques. These incorporate the use of your five senses.


01. PLACE YOUR HANDS IN THE WATER

Whenever you’re feeling disturbed, put your hands in the water. Focus on the temperature of the water. How does it feel on your palms, fingertips, and back of your hands? Is the water cold, lukewarm, or hot? Use warm water first followed by cold. Then do it and vice versa. This will calm your body and distract you from anxious thoughts. Have you ever experienced the calming effect of water during anxiety? What else do you usually do to overcome anxious thoughts? Sound off in the comment section below, and start a conversation with our Healthy Mind - Think Big community... 

02. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

When anxiety kicks in, you start breathing faster, making you feel much more anxious. Slowly inhale and then exhale. You can also try diaphragmatic breathing. In this breathing technique, you have to focus on the main muscle called the Diaphragm. It sits right under your lungs. Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach. Slowly breathe in and out of your nose. Make sure the hand on your chest barely moves. The diaphragmatic breathing technique will relax and ground you. 

03. TOUCH ITEMS NEAR YOU

You can do this even while reading this post. Pick up or touch things near you. Are they soft or hard? Warm or cool? Heavy or light? Pay attention to the texture and colors around you. Do the things you touch have a rough or smooth texture? Focus on specific colors like lavender and turquoise instead of regular pink and yellow. This will provide you with the comfort you need. 

04. ENJOY FOOD OR DRINK 

Savor every bite or sip. Think about everything you taste. Be present at the moment and enjoy your meal. Focus on the smell of the food, and the flavors that stay on your tongue. 

05. HOLD A PIECE OF ICE

How does it feel initially? How does it feel when the ice starts to melt? It’s a good distraction from distressing thoughts. If you’re overheating from anxiety, then the cool sensation can be really helpful. 

06. WALK FOR A FEW MINUTES

Go for a short walk. Focus on your brain on your steps. Count your footsteps and watch their rhythm. Concentrate on the feeling of putting your foot down and lifting it up again. 

07. GET YOURSELF MOVING

Squeeze some physical exercise into your routine to reduce stress. Do basic stretching or aerobics. Try jumping jacks, jogging, jump rope, or whatever you like. Focus on how your body feels. Try to feel every muscle in your body. If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope when it hits the ground. 

08. SAVOR ASCENT

Do you like a particular fragrance? It can be the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the seasoning you add to your pizza or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly, and pay attention to its qualities. Feel like you’re missing out? Make sure you join our millions of viewers by hitting that “Subscribe” button, and staying up to date on all our great Healthy Mind - Think Big content… 

09. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS 

Whatever you’re doing, stop for a few minutes and listen to the noise around you. Can you hear the clock ticking? Do you hear dogs barking? Traffic or construction sounds? If you hear people talking, focus on what they're saying? Are they speaking a different language? Listen carefully. 

10. FOCUS ON YOUR BODY 

Focus on how your body feels from head to toe. Can you feel the hairs on your shoulders? Glasses on your nose? Are your arms stiff? Can you feel your heartbeat? Does your stomach feel full? Are you sitting cross-legged? Is your back slouched or straight? Pay attention to each part of your body. 

11. TRY THE 5-4-3-2-1 METHOD

This will bring attention to your senses, which might help you manage anxious thoughts. Using your senses, list things you notice around you. Start from 5 and then work backward. For example, list 5 things you see, then 4 things you hear, then 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This will help reduce your anxiety. Moving on, let's discuss some mental techniques to divert your thoughts from those not-so-good feelings... 

12. PLAY A MEMORY GAME

You can play sudoku, solve puzzles, or any game that requires you to memorize stuff. Just find a detailed picture from google. Look at it for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, close the picture, and try to recreate and list off all the things you remember from the picture. 

13. THINK IN GROUPS

Try to think in categories by selecting one or two broad topics. For example, “Ice cream flavors”, “Flower Names”, “Cities in your country”, or “fruit names”. Try and list as many things as you can from each category. 

14. DO SOME MATH

Even if math is not your cup of tea, numbers can help you regain focus. Try counting backward from 100, or choosing a number and thinking of five different equations that result in it. 

15. MAKE YOURSELF LAUGH

We all know “Laughter is the best medicine”! So make yourself laugh by cracking a silly joke, watching your favorite comedy movie, or listening to a clip from your favorite comedian. 

16. RECITE SOMETHING

Think of a quote, poem, or song you know by heart. Recite it out loud, or in your head. While reciting, concentrate on the words, and try to visualize them like you’re watching a movie. 

17. USE AN ANCHORING PHRASE

Wondering what this is? It’s pretty straightforward. Start listing off facts about yourself. Things like, “My name is Elizabeth. I’m 24 years old. I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Today is Saturday, September 4. It's 11:10 in the morning, and I’m making a cup of coffee.” You can elaborate on the phrase by adding more details until you feel relaxed. These include “I’m meeting friends for lunch today. We might visit a museum after.” Focusing on these details will keep you grounded in reality. 

18. WALKTHROUGH A COMMON TASK

Just think of an activity you do often, like making your bed, brewing that cup of coffee, doing laundry, or watering plants. Describe the process of these activities step by step to yourself, just like how you’d give instructions to someone else. 

19. ENVISION A DAILY TASK YOU ENJOY

Just visualize a daily task you like doing. For example, if you’re into cooking, think about how you’d make pasta. “The water is boiling in a pan. I’m taking out a box of pasta from the pantry. Now, I’m adding pasta to boiling water. I’m chopping garlic, tomato, and other veggies for the pasta sauce.” These details will also keep you grounded. 

20. NARRATE WHAT'S AROUND YOU

Stop and just observe your surroundings for a few minutes. Use your five senses to describe what is around you in as much detail as possible. “I’m sitting at my desk at work. My laptop is making a humming sound. It's a bright sunny day. I can see people walking across the street. I hear dogs barking. ” 

21. IMAGINE YOURSELF LEAVING ALL YOUR SUFFERING BEHIND

Imagine you’re putting all your negative and painful feelings in a box and throwing this box into the ocean. Now envision yourself walking away. It may sound corny, but it can help. Now, let’s talk about some soothing techniques to calm you... 

22. PRACTICE SELF-KINDNESS

Be kind to yourself! Repeat compassionate phrases like “You're trying your best”, “You're tougher than you think”, or “This is just a rough patch.” Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to repeat these phrases out loud, or in your head, as many times as you need. 

23. IMAGINE THE FACE OR VOICE OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE 

When you feel sad, visualize someone who motivates you. Someone who radiates positivity. Imagine their voice telling you to be strong and crash through all your roadblocks. 

24. SIT WITH YOUR PET

If you have a pet, spend some time with them. Sit with them, pet them and focus on how their fur feels. Pay attention to their unique characteristics. Petting your animal will reduce your worries. 

25. IMAGINE YOUR FAVORITE PLACE

Visualize your favorite place, whether it's a local beach or a foreign country. Try to create a picture of that place in your head, using all five senses. Think of the sounds you hear, colors you see, people you’ve met, the last time you visited, and most importantly, a happy feeling you had there. 

26. LIST YOUR FAVORITES

Why only think about a favorite place? List your other favorites in different categories like movies, foods, songs, books, trees, web series, and so on. 

27. TOUCH SOMETHING THAT COMFORTS YOU

This could be anything like your favorite shirt, sweater, soft blanket, or scarf. Focus on how good it feels in your hand. Find a fabric with a soothing effect on your skin. 

28. PLAN AN ACTIVITY

This is something you can do alone, or with a friend. Plan an activity for the day, whether it's going out for brunch, taking a walk on the beach, or seeing a movie at the theatre. Focus on when and how you’ll get there, what you’ll wear, and all the essentials you’ll need. 

29. ENJOY SOME MUSIC

Do I need to stress this? Just put on your favorite song, and concentrate on the melody and lyrics. Focus on the feelings you get while listening to music. 

30. LIST SOME POSITIVE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE

Write down four to five things that bring satisfaction and happiness to your life. Visualize each of them and describe them briefly. Positive emotions help treat sadness. Stress can take over your life. It’s important to find ways to treat it.

The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.

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