What are Grounding Techniques?

Grounding techniques are ways of coping that help you come back to the present moment when feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It can be helpful when dealing with things like stress, anxiety, PTSD, cravings associated with substance abuse, and even urges to engage in self-directed violence.


If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or chat online, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call 911 or go to the nearest ER.


I encourage you to experiment with some of the examples below to see what works for you:


1. Take a few deep grounding breaths or try the 5-5-5 method (i.e., inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds).

2. Practice a mindfulness exercise such as this grounding meditation.

3. Practice a self-compassion exercise such as the self-compassion break.

4. Listen to sounds in your environment (i.e., noticing the ticking of the clock or sound of AC)

5. Feel into your body (i.e., noticing how your feet are grounded into the floor, the weight of your body in the chair you are sitting in).

6. Savor a scent (i.e., a candle or essential oils).

7. Touch an item next to you and notice the texture (i.e., a blanket in your bed).

8. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method (i.e., list five things you see, four things you feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste).

9. Savor a drink or food (i.e., having a cup of tea).

10. Take a hot, fragrant, bath.

11. Hold onto a small object in your hand and bring your full attention to the way it feels (i.e., a small rock or charm).

12. Do a self-massage (i.e., rubbing lavender lotion onto your hands or feet).

13. Hold onto an ice cube.

14. Pet a dog or cat.

15. Practice some mindful movement (i.e., yoga, qigong).

16. Use an anchoring phrase (i.e., "my name is X. It is X day of the week. It is x time. I am doing x).

17. Listen to music.

18. If you feel the need to do something more active try going for a brisk walk or run. You might even do something like cleaning.

19. Try journaling.

20. If you are creative, try something like drawing, painting, singing, or dancing.


If you are interested in learning more or in working with me please go to my homepage to contact me or schedule your free 15-minute phone call.


Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care. If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.





© 2020 Carissa Gustafson, Psy.D.  All rights reserved.

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