Ground Beneath Your Feet- Grounding Techniques
Updated: Jul 30, 2018
What are grounding techniques?
Sometimes when talking about difficult subjects or memories we can become overwhelmed by emotions and bodily sensations. Grounding techniques are ways of bringing us back into the moment, the here and now.
This can be particularly useful in counselling when working with anxiety or trauma, where our reactions to the thoughts and emotions we are struggling with can make things worse. Like putting petrol on a fire!
By turning our attention to what is happening right now we stop the fire from burning too fast, allowing us to explore the issues we are struggling with.
What grounding techniques might I use with my therapist?
I often introduce grounding techniques to my clients in the first or second session. Often before we have covered the effects of trauma or anxiety.
I have a picture in my office, of orange cloth drying in the afternoon sun, and if they say their feelings are overwhelming them, I ask them what they think of it bringing them back into the room. It’s not the picture that does the grounding its the shift of focus to the here and now.
And that can be anything that works for a client. Whether that’s focussing on their feet meeting the ground, finding four blue things in the room or catching a ball I throw to them.
What are some grounding techniques I can use on my own?
You may well use these in a counselling session, but you can also use them yourself. There are lots out there, and remember the activity itself is not the key it’s moving your focus to the present. So don’t be afraid to mix it up.
One of my favourites, that I often use myself when feeling stressed, is find four blue things, where I’ll start looking around the room to find blue objects. You can choose a colour you find calming or natural materials. I’ve found this works well with the children in my family too.
Count your Breaths
Breathing can be an excellent resource for grounding yourself, and is the focus of many meditations. Simply count “one” for the inhale, “two” for the exhale, go all the way to ten, then repeat.
This can be particularly effective as anxiety disorders often affect our breathing. Do be aware that this kind of technique may cause you difficulty if deep or heavy breathing was a significant part of any traumatic event affecting you. Trust yourself.
Talk to yourself.
Come up with a personal phrase that reminds you that the trauma or thing you are anxious about has passed, that you are in a different time and place. That you survived.
This just a snapshot of what people have found works for them. Grounding techniques are a small part of processing trauma or anxiety, but they can be reassuring to have in your back pocket.
I would love to hear of any you use.