Techniques to help you stay grounded in the present

If you've ever experienced a panic attack, had a flashback, or even an intense emotion, you know how overwhelming it can be. Your thoughts may feel like they're spinning in your head, you can lose focus and feel detached, and sometimes it can feel as if you are frozen in place.

This is where grounding exercises can be extremely useful. Grounding exercises are helpful to engage your frontal lobe, 'ground' yourself in the here and now, and keep your mind and body connected to the present moment.

Having a handful of grounding exercises in your toolbox is helpful as different techniques can be useful at different times. Below is a list of grounding techniques that may be useful when you're feeling.

  • Take ten slow breaths. Pay attention to the way it feels as the breath moves in and out of your lungs. Notice your stomach rising and falling and the sound it makes as you breathe in and out.
  • Lay on the ground and notice the way the ground feels under your body. Scratch the hard tiles or dig your fingers and toes into the fluffy carpet.
  • Squeeze playdough between your fingers.
  • Pick an essential oil that you feel is calming or helps to focus your mind. Keep it somewhere close and smell it when you start to feel overwhelmed with emotion.
  • Take a bath.
  • Describe an object in detail. What colour is it? What is it made of? What does it feel like? What shapes can you see? Do you like it? Etc.
  • Notice and name all objects with a particular characteristic that you can see. For example, name all of the red objects you can see in the room.
  • Count by 7's.
  • Hold something cold or place something cold on your face.
  • Stomp your feet on the ground.
  • Make a sensory box filled with objects that are soothing or interesting and pull out this box when you feel the need.
  • Stop and listen – notice and name all of the sounds you can hear nearby.
  • Wear an elastic band around your wrist. Flick it gently to pull your mind back into the present.
  • Stretch.

These grounding exercise will help you remain connected and grounded in the present.