Do you feel often like life is passing you by? Is it hard to find a minute to calm down and really take things in around you? Grounding techniques, or simple ways to bring your body and mind back to the present moment, might be a good idea for you.
Why Get Grounded?
There’s no denying that modern life is stressful. Most of us feel so rushed with activities that there’s hardly time to breath, much less take a moment to enjoy where we are. And that’s dangerous. When your mind is always doing something different than dwelling in the present, you live your life in a fog and never fully experience what’s right in front of you. Instead of enjoying your achievements or understanding that a bout of anxiety will pass, you spend your time fretting about what’s to come or remorseful about past events that can’t be changed.
Worst of all, not living in the moment means you float through life without a strong sense of purpose. This means that even small inconveniences will be a big distraction for you, making it difficult to get anything worthwhile done in your life. Not only is this an unhealthy way to live, it also prevents you from enjoying the best that life has to offer. If you care about making a change and getting your emotions under control, it’s a smart idea to learn some grounding techniques that you can incorporate into your daily life.
What are Grounding Techniques?
To put it simply, grounding techniques are simple ways that you can reconnect yourself with the greater world. Like how the roots of a tree keep it stable in the soil, grounding techniques can help you root yourself in the world and deepen your relationship with it. Useful for dealing with anxiety, combating panic attacks and staying fully present, grounding techniques will ease your distress and give you alternative ways to think about the problems in front of you so that they feel far less overwhelming in the long run.
The stress caused from anxiety and panic causes brain to feel aloof and distant from what’s actually in front of it, making it easier to work up a problem to seem much worse than it really is. By incorporating grounding techniques into your daily life, you’ll be able to teach your brain how to process these events without going in negative directions, and in the process remind yourself that the problems you’re dealing with aren’t as scary as your brain thinks. By getting your head out of the trauma of the past or future, you’ll keep yourself in the present, which is the only part of your life that you truly have control over anyways.
There are many different grounding techniques that you can practice for different situations, and everyone responds to some of them better than others. By practicing different techniques, you’ll learn which ones work best for you and gain important strategies for managing your stress into the future.
In most cases, stress is caused by fear. Whether that’s fear of the unknown or fear of something in your past might vary, but grounding yourself in the reality of the present is a good way to combat it. Most grounding techniques focus on connecting you with the reality that’s right in front of you, which often involves the use of any of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) to build a connection between the mind and the body. When you manage to connect these two parts of yourself back together, your mind is less likely to fly away in different directions and instead will be tethered to the reality of what’s actually around you.
If you find yourself with a mind filled with racing, negative thoughts, using grounding techniques will deescalate your frenzied mental activity and help you divert yourself in healthy ways. Not only will your mind be reset from the problems you’re dealing with, you’ll also be better engaged to seek out productive solutions in the first place.
Grounding for General Anxiety
Unfortunately, anxiety is all too common. Whether your stress comes from money troubles, relationship woes or something else, there’s probably little you can do about it on an hour to hour basis. For this reason, what good is to to constantly dwell on your stresses? If you’d rather let go of the things you aren’t able to change and free yourself from your chronic anxiety, practicing some grounding techniques is a smart way to recenter yourself.
When it comes to dealing with anxiety, you first need to remind yourself that your brain is working against you. Most anxiety is about things that aren’t real in the first place, so pull yourself out of your worried thought loops and remind yourself that the reasons for your stress exist more in your head than the real world. By naming your anxiety, you’ll be able to see it for what it is and start the process of stopping it from controlling you.
Second, it’s important to accept anxiety for what it is. Don’t surrender to your panic or try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Instead, acknowledge that it’s there and name the reasons why you are feeling it. When you name something, you are recognizing it for what it is and it loses some of its power over you. By classifying your racing heart and stressed out feelings as anxiety, it loses some of its power to control you.
Grounding for PTSD and Panic Attacks
There’s no shame in panic attacks. Millions of Americans suffer from them every year, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a growing problem around the world. In many ways, a panic attack can be considered chronic stress on steroids. When you experience one, you’ll go through a period of intense, almost paralyzing stress that leaves you with a racing heartbeat, uncontrollable sweating and an inability to calm down. Not only are they frightening to experience, panic attacks can also control your life. Nonetheless, you don’t need to be a victim to your bursts of panic. By using grounding techniques you can keep yourself in the present and prevent your symptoms from taking over your life.
The first thing to do to ground yourself during a panic attack is to regain control over your symptoms. Pull your mind out of the thought loops of stress and do what you can to focus on your breath instead. Ten slow, steady breathes will do wonders for calming you down and make it easier to regain control of your body and your mind.
Grounding for Staying Present
If you find yourself spending most of your free time daydreaming about the future, you’ll also find yourself missing out on the joys of the present. This is a waste of life, which is why it is so important to use grounding techniques to enjoy what is happening right in front of you. When you feel your mind heading off to far away places, practicing some centering techniques can bring you back to the present so that you don’t miss what’s happening right in front of you.
The 4 Grounding Strategies You Can Use Today
Ready to cast off your chronic anxiety and start living in the present moment? These ground strategies will help you get there.
1. Trace Your Hand
It may sound simple, but this technique can help you connect deeply with yourself. Start by tracing your hand on a piece of paper and label each finger as one of the five senses. Then, go through each finger and think of something safe and pleasant represented by that sense. For example, your thumb can be labeled sound and you can think of a rushing river. After you finish, put the paper somewhere where you will see it often and memorize the five senses. When you feel yourself leaving the present moment, look at your hand and remember each of the symbols for the five senses, and you’ll find yourself breathing deeper and calming down.
2. Focus on Your Breath
The second you let your anxiety get the best of you, your breath is usually the first thing to become compromised. You can take back control of your mental state by switching from shallow, stressed breathing to deep, full breaths that reach down to the bottom of your belly. Take five minutes to truly focus on your breath, and your mind will stop racing and your heart rate will go down in no time.
3. Connect to Your Body
When you get stuck in the racing thoughts in your own head, it’s easy to forget about your body. For this reason, physical activity is a great grounding technique to connect with yourself and come back to the present. Go for a run, do some stretches or simple take a walk around the office and you’ll find your mind reconnecting with your body. Not only is physical activity good for your health, engaging your body and your mind helps to bring back perspective and remind you that things aren’t as stressful as they seem.
4. Spend Time in Nature
There’s a reason why you always feel better after a walk in the woods. Nature is a refuge and a way to connect with something larger than yourself, which can give you a break from daily stresses and help you see the bigger picture. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, hit the nature trails near you or simply open up a window and look at the neighborhood birds, and you’ll soon find a sense of peace and present living coming back to you.
Though the stresses of life are always pulling us away from the present moment, there are plenty of grounding techniques you can try out to keep your mind focused on what really matters. Try out these techniques for yourself and you’ll likely find one that resonates with you. The journey is worth it, because relying on grounding techniques will leave you happier, more relaxed, and enjoying the present moment like never before.
Interested in other ways to relax from stress? Check out these articles to learn how to practice yoga on your own and learn some simple tips for meditation.