What is grounding?
Grounding is a technique used to cope with distressing emotions. In grounding, a person will seek to reconnect with the present moment so they can temporarily remove themself from a distressing headspace and look at their circumstances objectively and logically. It can also be used to distract oneself in a moment of emotional anguish for temporary relief.
Grounding is a form of mindfulness and involves growing awareness of your immediate environment, its relationship to the big picture of your life and the universe and emotional self-awareness. Grounding uses the five senses of sight, touch, sound, scent and even taste to help a person self-soothe in a difficult moment.
What are grounding techniques?
Grounding techniques are individual practices you can incorporate into your daily life that can both prevent triggers to distressing emotions and ease the tension at the moment. The best grounding techniques are ones that you can do with little equipment on short notice.
There are generally two categories of grounding techniques that are commonly used. They are physical grounding techniques and mental grounding techniques. Physical grounding techniques are those that involve an intense focus on a non-threatening part of the environment.
Purposeful refocusing can help a person find inner stability before addressing the anxiety-provoking trigger. The best grounding techniques that capitalize on using the physical environment include practices like holding an ice cube, watching the clouds, using essential oils or using a sensory fidget item.
Mental grounding techniques don’t require a person to interact with his or her environment but emphasize mental exercise. These techniques can include brain games, contemplating something, reviewing positive memories or focusing on inner sensations.
5 grounding techniques you can use right now
If you’re ready to start diving into mindfulness activities to benefit your mental health, the good news is that they don’t take much training and there are plenty of activities you can try right now. For starters, try out these five grounding techniques to make effective changes in your awareness and mental peace.
The color game
One of the easiest grounding techniques you can use is called “the color game.” When a distressing event happens or anxiety creeps in, you’ll use this activity by using the rainbow to identify an object that matches each color of the rainbow in your immediate surroundings.
For example, you may see a red book, an orange shirt, a yellow light, a green plant and so forth. The goal of this strategy is to use your environment as a natural and engaging distraction. You may find that this temporary mind shift is enough to de-escalate strong feelings.
2. Step outside
Perhaps the most well-known form of grounding, often called “grounding” itself, is the activity of stepping outside barefoot. The goal of grounding is to connect with the earth’s surface electrons and transfer that energy into the body.
This exercise is a relatively new phenomenon and there have been studies aimed at assessing the effectiveness of grounding, and the Journal of Environmental and Public Health has stated that some subjective evidence suggests that it can reduce pain and promote better sleep.
3. Body scan meditation
The best grounding techniques are those that use limited supplies and this activity is perfect for finding serenity only using your body and mind. In order to do a body scan, you’ll lay flat on the floor with your arms and legs comfortably extended. Slowly, you’ll review each part of your body and take efforts to relax them.
This type of technique is often done in order, from head to toe, and any sensations that are connected to any specific parts of the body are noted. When you can connect the physiological sensations to the emotions you’ll be feeling, you’ll feel much more in control.
4. Nature sensory walk
While quick access to a beautiful park isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be, a simple walk outside can lift your mood, especially when you’re outside during sunny hours. A nature sensory walk can help you soak up all that the great outdoors has to offer to promote your mental health.
During a nature sensory walk, you’ll look for interaction for each of your five senses. Smell flowers, feel tree bark, listen to the sound of the wind and drag your fingers through a puddle of rainwater, watching the ripples it creates. Small interactions with nature can re-center us on the present moment and help us appreciate what’s around us.
5. Gratitude scavenger hunt
This mindfulness practice can happen inside or outside and doesn’t require a formal checklist. A gratitude scavenger hunt helps you look for things in your environment that you’re thankful for. Gratefulness has been shown to improve mood and offer a more selfless perspective.
Try creating a list of ten things you can spot, or if you have more time look for something that starts with each letter of the alphabet. For example, you could say “I’m thankful for apples, books, coffee, dim lighting, erasers, fancy stationary” and so on. It even works from sitting at your office desk.
Getting professional intervention for emotional distress
If you are living with a mental health condition and feel you need help managing it, The Light Program can help. Our caring therapists will work with you to identify the underlying causes of your condition and develop effective coping mechanisms. Find a location near you and start improving your life today.