Grounding is different than other relaxation strategies. It is an active strategy to temporarily detach from emotional discomfort and connect thoughts and body to the “here and now”. Grounding can be done anywhere and anytime. It is particularly helpful when negative thoughts feel uncontrollable.
Ground with 5 Senses / 5-4-3-2-1 Senses Grounding:
Name 5 things you can see right now.
Name 4 Things you can feel. Feel them.
Name 3 things you can hear.
Name 2 things you can smell.
Name 1 thing you can taste (have mint or gum near). * Younger children might want to think about one thing they like to see, feel, hear, taste or smell.
Play a “categories” game. Choose a category and spend a few minutes thinking of as many items as you can for the category. Animals, comedy movies, songs with the word “LOVE” in the title, countries, cars, fruits and vegetables. Also, take turns doing this alphabetically. For example, name animals alphabetically (alligator, bear, cat…) or take turns naming fruit alphabetically with your child or teen (e.g., apple, blue berry, cantaloupe, dates).
Mental Exercises. Think about something else deliberately to take mind off distressing or uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. For example, describe steps to perform an activity you know well. Count backwards from 20. Count backwards from100 by 7. Think of an object and “draw” it in your mind or in the air with your finger.
Find items of the same color. Look for and name everything blue in the room. How many different shades of blue are there? (use any preferred color)
Come up with a coping statement that you (or your child) can repeat such as, “I can handle this”, “this feeling will pass”, “I am safe right now”.
Physical grounding: Place both feet firmly on the ground, push and feel the ground below you. Stretch. Touch different objects around you. Notice how each object feels, texture, pattern.
Run cool water over your hands. Splash cold water on your face.
Stress Press: Flatten your palms and press them together, raising your arms so that your forearms are straight and parallel to the floor. Push them together and hold 5 seconds. Release arms down. Repeat.
Body Awareness Exercise: Focus on bodily sensations. Take 5 deep breaths, breathe in through nose and out through your mouth. 1) Place both feet on the floor and wiggle your toes. Pay attention to how your toes feel. 2) Stomp your feet on the ground several times. Notice the feeling of the floor beneath you. 3) Make a fist, clench your hands tightly then release several times. Notice how your hands feel 4) Rub your palms together quickly several times and feel the warm sensation when you stop 6) Stretch with your hands over your head high and slightly back behind ears your ears. Hold for 5 seconds. Bring your arms back down and relax arms. Take 5 more deep breaths.
Practice these grounding techniques with your child or teen when calm to be able to access them during times of stress.
Grounding does not solve the problem causing negative emotions, but it can help you regain control and prevent you from feeling worse. Understanding and learning coping strategies and solving the underlying problems that are contributing to distress, anxiety or strong negative emotions is important for long term well-being. Please reach out if you would like to discuss how we can help provide this support for you, your child or teen.
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