Grounding is one of my favorite coping skills and I often recommend it to others. I learned more about this skill a few years ago during a treatment intervention training for persons diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use (Seeking Safety). I started teaching and implementing these skills during individual and group counseling, and I began using these skills for my own self-soothing. I saw how clients benefitted from these skills and I also saw the hard work that goes into practicing and staying motivated to use the skills. Grounding is strategy to help you reconnect with the present moment by focusing on what is happening externally as opposed to being drawn internally. Grounding practices may also be referred to as healthy detachment, calming, looking outward, or centering.
Grounding techniques can be helpful for reducing emotional pain, especially when you are overwhelmed and find it difficult to be in the present moment. In essence, grounding helps you to be anchored in the present and to reality. It’s important to note that while grounding helps you to stay in reality and the present moment, it is not used to forget your experiences, instead, grounding helps you to feel more regulated so you can deal with stressors and other life events. Grounding skills are often taught to persons who experienced trauma and in addiction recovery, however anyone can use these skills at any time! It may also be a great idea to start your day with some of these skills so you feel grounded and calm before you begin your daily activities.
Mental Grounding (focusing your mind):
- create a safety statement (eg., I am safe right now. I am in the present moment and I am located in ______)
- describe your environment in great detail (describe everything you can about the space you are in)
Physical Grounding (focusing your senses):
- move your body (running, walking, yoga, dance)
- focus on breathing (notice each inhale and exhale)
Soothing Grounding (being kind to yourself)
- say kind statements to yourself (I am a good person, I am doing my best)
- think of good things you are looking forward to in the next few days
If grounding doesn’t work for you, continue practicing! If these are new skills it may take some time (and practice) for the skills to make sense or feel comfortable. Here are some tips:
- practice as often as you can
- find a skill that you like the best and continue practicing until you feel comfortable adding new skills
- ask a loved one to join you in your practice or teach someone else about the skill
- be easy with yourself as you learn these skills and remember you don’t have to do all the skills, all the time
If you practice grounding skills, think about these questions and journal your responses:
- What is your experience when you practice grounding? What is it like for you?
- Where in your body do you feel these practices the most?
- When do you most need to practice grounding?
Check out my Instagram for more grounding tips and information this week!
~ Karisse C
Najavits, L. M. (2002). Seeking safety: A treatment manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse. Guilford Press