Feeling distressed? Try Grounding

Grounding is a practice that can help when you are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing challenging emotions. The intent of the technique is to distract you from your discomfort and refocus your mind using your 5 senses.

Here are a few simple examples you can try when you are feeling anxious, distressed, or even starting to panic.

Feel some water: Put your hands in water; feel the temperature, feel the movement on all parts of your hands. Focus on how the water makes you feel: does it calm you? Soothe you? Does it feel the same on your fingers as on the back of your hands?

Touch random items: Pick up an item that is near you and notice its weight, temperature, texture, and colour. How does it feel to hold it?

Stop and listen: Listen to every sound around you. Are there birds outside? The hum of a fan? The rumble of a truck? Acknowledge those sounds and take a moment to just get immersed in your environment.

Do a body scan: While sitting in place, focus on individual parts of your body, going from head to toe. Notice each part. How do your toes feel? Do you feel stiff or loose? Can you feel your heartbeat?

Use an anchor phrase: This exercise involves repeating a phrase to keep you focused on the moment. For example, “My name is __________. I live in __________. Today is Thursday at 11:15 am. I am at my desk. I am doing fine.” If you need to, you can add details about your surroundings to help keep you calm such as noting the temperature or the sounds you can hear.

Try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. This technique may be one of the most familiar grounding methods used to help in moments of distress. Working backwards from 5 use your senses to list things that you notice around you. For example,

What are…
  • 5 things that you can see?
  • 4 things that you can feel?
  • 3 things that you can hear?
  • 2 things that you can smell?
  • 1 thing that you can taste?

We have created a printable poster to share in your workspace to remind those that may need it to take a moment to focus on the present which may help ground them and calm distressing feelings.

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