Grounding Strategies

When we are feeling overwhelmed or like we do not have control of our feelings or our situations, we can try an exercise called grounding to help settle our feelings. Grounding pulls you back into your body and back into the moment by using your senses to notice what is happening around you right now.

Below you will find different grounding strategies for you to practice at home! Find a place where you can get comfortable and remember to take slow, even breaths while you practice these grounding techniques.

Breathing during these grounding exercises is important as our breath has the ability to calm our brains and bodies. Before you start a practicing a grounding strategy, make sure you have practiced your belly breathing! To do this, you want to make sure that when you are breathing in, you are filling your belly with air. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly – now take a slow deep breath in through your nose. Which hand moved more? It should be the hand that’s on your belly. Try a few more times to see if you can get it! As you breathe in you should feel your belly rise and as you breathe out you should feel your belly flatten. You also want to make sure that you are not breathing in or out too fast as that can have the opposite affect and make you feel more overwhelmed or out of control. Follow along with the video below to practice your belly breathing.

Find a spot to get comfy, take 5 calming belly breaths before you begin.

Start off by looking around the space that you are in. What are 5 different things you can see?

Next, close your eyes if you would like, and listen. What are 4 different sounds or noises you can hear?

Now, what are 3 things you can smell? Maybe you can smell your laundry detergent on your close, or maybe your hair smells like your shampoo.

After that, focus on two different things you can touch. Notice what these feel like - maybe you're snuggled up with a soft blanket, or you notice that your jeans feel rough, or you feel that the surface of the table you are sitting at feels smooth and cold.

Finally, what is one thing you can taste? It may be the toothpaste from when you brushed your teeth, the food you just ate, or the piece of gum you are chewing on.

It might be tempting to get up and move around during this one. Try your best to stay where you are and continue breathing while you look around your space for the objects listed.

Once you have gotten comfy, you can begin to notice things in your space that start with each letter of the alphabet.

Once you’ve used sight to identify these objects you can then explore them with your other senses. For example, maybe you notice an apple. What color is the apple? How does it feel? What does it taste like? If you do bite into the apple to taste it, what sounds do you notice? You may not be able to use all of your senses with each object you find - remember not to put anything in your mouth that is not edible!

Make sure that you have enough space to safely practice this grounding strategy. To do this, reach your arms out to both sides to make sure that you cannot touch anything or anyone else. Once you have done this, take 5 calming belly breaths. As you practice this strategy it is important to keep breathing slowly and stay as quiet as possible so that you can focus on your body and mind.

Take another deep breath in and slowly blow it out. Stand tall in your space. Feel your feet connected with the ground. Imagine yourself as a strong tree. Feel your roots deeply connected to the ground. When you are comfortable, lift your right foot off the ground just a bit. You can place your foot on the inside of your left ankle or keep your right toes touching the ground for balance and stability. Once you feel balanced, take a deep breath in and reach your arms up towards the sky. Breathe out and imagine your tree limbs blowing in the wind. Take a few more cycles of breath – in and out – as you notice how you feel. Finally, Lower your foot back to the ground.

For this grounding strategy you will practice saying a positive affirmation. Affirmations are positive words or short statements that you repeat to yourself to help you feel better or help you feel good about yourself. Just as we need to eat healthy foods to help ourselves grow strong and healthy, it is important that we practice having positive and happy thoughts to help our minds so we can grow up feeling happy and confident about ourselves. The more we repeat happy and positive thoughts, the happier and positive we will feel.

Follow the prompt on the picture to give yourself a power hug. This may feel silly at first, and it is okay to laugh, but make sure you are doing your best to give yourself a big hug! Hugs, even ones that we give ourselves, send a message to our brain that we are safe and we are loved. This can help lower the stress in our lives and help us feel calm and relaxed. Once you have practiced a power hug and affirmation – try it three more times just as it says at the bottom of the picture: tap, tap, squeeze, affirm (“I am present”, “I am safe”, “I am loved”, “I am strong”).

For this grounding strategy you will need to pick an object to focus on. This can really be anything: a toy, slime or putty, a remote control, a pencil, a water bottle, etc. Once you have your object, focus all of your attention just that one object. Notice the colors, the texture, how it feels in your hand, how it is made, what shapes are involved, how it moves, and how it makes you feel. Do this for at least a minute. If you have other thoughts that pop into your head, just let them go and continue to focus on just the object.

Taking time to observe just one object can help you practice mindfulness and help you feel grounded. By focusing all your thoughts on one object, you are forcing your mind to stay within the present moment. It creates a stillness in your mind and body. This is something you can do anywhere or anytime you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or out of control.