What makes something ‘grounding’?
Grounding techniques help regulate the nervous system, bring you more fully into your root chakra, and help you feel safe. A grounding technique connects someone to the Earth, their body, their 5 senses, or the present moment, and anchors them to something stable. The list below is by no means exhaustive. Use the elements of what makes something grounding to make your own grounding technique.
When is it helpful to use a grounding technique?
Grounding techniques help you regulate your nervous system by helping you self-regulate or co-regulate depending on the technique you use. An example of self-regulation would be using your breath to anchor yourself to the present moment and calm your body. An example of co-regulation would be using nature to help regulate your nervous system, such as by walking barefoot outside or using the help of someone who is calm such as through eye contact, a hug, or holding their hand. Grounding techniques can help you return to a perceived state of safety and can help you return to your body’s window of tolerance that an overwhelming stressful event such as a trauma brought you out of. Grounding techniques can be helpful when feeling too in your head, out of your body, afraid, anxious, panicky, restless, hypervigilant, experiencing intrusive thoughts, feeling numb, and/ or when feeling disconnected from yourself and others. Using grounding techniques regularly when you are both calm and not calm helps you build resiliency. Regular use of grounding techniques helps you build the capacity to feel intense feelings while remaining within your body’s window of tolerance.
What grounding technique is best for me?
The helpfulness of a grounding technique depends on both how dysregulated your nervous system is, which branch of your automatic nervous system is under or overactive, and how much time you give to using the technique. For instance, external grounding techniques such as pressing your hand against the sturdy, protective, supportive wall, holding a calm person’s hands, or laying outside on the grass may be more accessible to you and helpful than internal grounding techniques, such as focusing on your breath or visualizing leaning on a sturdy tree with deep roots and strong limbs, when feeling highly dysregulated and disassociative. Furthermore, it is important to use an internal grounding technique long enough and with the use of your 5 senses for it to become a somatic experience or an experience you feel with your body rather than a solely mental experience.
13 Grounding Techniques:
- Hold the hand of someone who is supportive of you and is calm.
- Push against a solid wall with the palm of your hands.
- Get into your body by exercising. You can go for a run, lift weights or do some gentle stretching.
- Place your right hand over your heart and left hand on your naval and take three slow deep breaths. You may close your eyes if it is comfortable and calming to do so. On your inhale silently say to yourself “I am”. Pause at the top of your inhale if that feels comfortable to you and on your slow out-breath silently say to yourself “here”.
- Do a body scan from the tips of your toes to your scalp. Bring awareness to a part of your body, notice the sensations coming up in that part of the body without judgment, breathe into that part of your body, on the exhale release all tension from that part of your body while saying to yourself silently “relax” and then move on to the next part of your body.
- Focus on the sensations of one area of your body such as your hands or legs. Can you sense an energy field around the body part? Do you feel heat or tingling or buzzing?
- Go outside and use your 5 senses to interact with nature. Notice if you can hear any birds or rustling leaves. Notice if you can smell the scent of a fireplace or flower. Notice what colors of nature you can see. Reach out and touch a soft leaf, a slender stem, or a tree’s coarse bark. Taste a piece of mint or basil from the garden. Bonus points for walking barefoot on the Earth or touching the cold Earth with your hand.
- Repeat a grounding mantra out loud or in your head such as “I am here”, “I am supported by the Earth”, “I am grounded”, or “I am safe”. When you notice your mind wander away from the mantra just gently return to the mantra without any judgment.
- Visualize yourself steadily, firmly, and confidently walking barefoot in a field of short grass.
- Visualize yourself sitting on the ground leaning with your back firmly against a strong, steady, solid tree.
- Anchor yourself to your breath. Bring your awareness to the sensation of breathing, to the cold air in your nostrils and warm air out, to your belly and chest gently rising with each inhale and falling with each exhale. When you notice your mind wander away from your breath just gently return to your breath without any judgment.
- Lay down and visualize roots coming from everywhere along the back of your body and visualize the roots reaching to the center of the Earth. You can visualize grounding, calming, centering, loving golden and emerald energy coming from Earth’s center, up the roots, and filling your body with calm, peace, and balance.
- Place your feet solidly on the ground. Sit with your back straight or stand straight up. Visualize roots coming out of your feet and going down to the center of the Earth. Visualize anxiety, mental clutter, and everything not serving you leaving your body and going down the roots to be taken care of by mother Earth. Visualize mother Earth sending nourishing, grounding, loving energy from her heart or core up your roots to your feet and then filling every cell of your being.