This blog looks at ten powerful mental grounding tools. All of us could sometimes do with a little grounding! All grounding techniques are designed to do one thing: to help us to connect with the present in a focussed way which gives both our body and mind a chance to calm themselves. Once our body feels a little calmer, it sends a signal to our nervous system and brain that there isn’t an actual threat present. There is a sense of “finding a safe place”.
Force your attention outwards
Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are painted with a cream colour. There are four chairs around a table, there is a wooden bookshelf with three shelves.” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colours, smells, shapes, numbers and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the bus: “I’m on the bus. It’s fairly full. I can see ten people sitting in front of me. The seat next to me is empty. I’ll see the river soon. We are nearly at the next bus stop. It’s starting to rain. The windows are dirty…”
Play a “categories” game with yourself
Try to think of “types of dogs”, “rock bands”, “favourite films”, “European capital cities”, “US States” etc etc
Do an age progression
This is a good one if you have a sense that you have regressed emotionally to a younger age – perhaps to when you were a small child. Acknowledge that is where you are, and then gently but firmly start to work your way back (e.g., “I’m now 9”; “I’m now 10”; “I’m now 11”…) until you are back to your current age. You might feel yourself physically growing taller as you go through the age progression.
Describe to yourself or vividly imagine an everyday activity
For example, describe a meal that you cook – spaghetti bolognese or a roast dinner. Or clean your car, or wash your dog.
Use your imagination powerfully
Use an image to separate yourself from you thoughts and feelings – eg change the TV channel to a better programme, or imagine leaving the anxious or distressing thoughts in a room and go out closing the door firmly behind you.
Use a safety statement
This is especially recommended for trauma survivors but also useful for anyone experiencing overwhelming emotions – something like the following series of statements: ‘My name is _________; I am safe right now. I am totally in the present. I am located in _____________ the date is _____________
Grab something (anything!) and read it
Read something (even a cereal packet or notice on a wall), saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of words.
Think of something funny either from your own experience or an Internet funny cat video or read in a book to jolt yourself out of your mood.
Count to 10 or say the alphabet very slowly
Or do them backwards. Or to really challenge yourself, start at 200 and count backwards in 6s or 7s as quickly as you can.
Try a “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise”
This is where you identify 5 objects, 4 different sounds, 3 textures, 2 smells, and 1 taste in your immediate surroundings
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!