When life comes in overwhelming waves, it is useful to have some grounding techniques up your sleeve. If you’ve practiced them in calmer times, they can be quickly remembered and put into action to help you to weather the storm.
Here are a few of the grounding techniques that I use myself and in my Counselling with clients.
Coming back to your senses – 5,4,3,2,1
Look around you, wherever you are, and bring your attention to:
5 things you can see
4 thing you can hear
3 things you can touch
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
This technique directs you back to the here and now, bringing you back to your senses and into the calming part of your brain. You can do it anywhere – when you’re boiling the kettle, when you’re out for a walk, when you’re waiting for a meeting you are nervous about, when you’re hiding in the bathroom – its quick, easy to remember and always to hand when you need it.
Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. It’s as simple as that.
Why does this work? Longer out breathes make the parasympathetic nervous system kick in and it calms us down. I have written a more in-depth post about 7-11 breathing7-11 Breathing Technique for Relaxation if you want to learn more.
Ask yourself “What does your body need?”
- Mobilisation is part of the fight/flight response. Do you notice you are fidgeting or can’t sit still? It might work better to get moving round the room. You can try swaying, rocking, walking, dancing – whatever feels right to you. This can be a good technique if meditation feels like its not right for you at the moment.
- Immobilsation is part of the shutdown freeze/collapse response. Do you need to gently get up and get back into your body?
Movement is helpful to process the cortisol, which is a stress hormone that our body produces. This will bring our body back online and enable us to access our rational part of the brain.
There are lots of other grounding techniques, but these are some easy ones that don’t take very long to practice with. Sometimes I will bring these techniques into the Counselling session, if it is relevant for you, and we can practice them together. Then in-between sessions, if the going gets tough, you will have some tools in your toolkit that you can find easily to help.