Updated: Jan 12, 2020
A grounding technique is anything you do that helps you return to the present moment and find your emotional center.
Most grounding techniques involve the use of the five senses since this is one of the easiest ways to stay aware of the present moment.
I, personally, rely heavily on grounding techniques when I feel emotionally charged or triggered. Having a toolkit of exercises to help me get centered and reconnect with my body prevents me from getting emotionally dysregulated.
I'm sharing 15 of my favorite ways to soothe, ground, and come back home to the present moment. If you have others to add to this list, drop them in the comments!
1. Go for a walk in nature
Nature is my answer to almost everything. Being outside immediately activates the senses and has a serene quality.
Find a nearby park that you can venture to in times of stress or anxiety. Walk around your neighborhood. Go sit by the ocean or a lake. Plan a camping trip.
Being outside soothes the nervous system and helps you return to equilibrium.
I loveeee yoga. And if you know me at all, you know that I love it as a spiritual practice more than a physical one.
By moving your body, you're more likely to bring your attention back to the present moment rather than spiraling in your emotions.
Additionally, yoga relies heavily on the breath and so moving in conjunction with deep breathing is one of the oldest grounding techniques available to us.
3. Play music loudly
As a bonus, play music loudly and dance. Music (using the sense of sound) is a universally recognized grounding technique.
4. Say your thoughts out loud
One day a few years ago I was triggered and I remembered that my therapist encouraged me to say my thoughts out loud.
Often the stories you're telling yourself or the thoughts that are perpetuating your emotion dysregulation aren't logical or grounded in present moment reality.
By saying your thoughts out loud, you are making them concrete and real rather than ideas that are just spinning in your mind.
When you say them out loud and can hear them as an outside observer, you're more likely to recognize that they're not sensible.
Don't believe me? Record them in a voice memo on your phone. Hours later, once you've settled down, replay your message and listen to it.
5. Take a hot shower or bath
This not only feels amazing, but the heat on your body activates your sense of touch. This brings you back to the present moment and helps to soothe your system.
6. Play with your pets
It's difficult to be fully present with animals and also be spiraling in our minds. Animals keep us on our toes and require our attention.
Petting them is also a great way to use your sense of touch and return to your body.
7. Sniff/diffuse essential oils
I'm a Young Living gal, but you can use what makes your heart happy.
Essential oils activate your sense of smell which is an incredible way to bring you back to the present moment AND it can help you remember fond associations you have with that scent.
8. Notice & name sights and sounds around you
If you start getting dysregulated (a fancy word for "off-center"), pay attention to your surroundings. This will bring you out of your funk by activating your prefrontal cortex - the part of your brain used for thinking and problem solving - rather than staying in the reactive and emotional part of your brain.
9. Do a puzzle
For reasons similar to noticing your surroundings, doing a puzzle is a fun way to bring attention to the present moment and activate your prefrontal cortex.
10. Take deep breaths
Breathing is the key to everything. It literally sustains us. Paying attention to your breath is an ancient practice that helps you return to the present moment and become aware of the sensations & thoughts running through your body.
11. Sip hot tea or coffee
Not only is this helpful, but it's also delicious. Using your sense of taste... especially when there is a sensory component such as heat, cold, or spice... is a wonderful way to help you return to the present moment.
12. Organize your thoughts on paper
Just as voicing your thoughts out loud is helpful, so is getting them on paper. The time it takes for your ideas to hit paper is enough time for your mind to stop spinning in circles and stop pushing you over the emotional edge.
Write. Down. Your. Thoughts.
Journal. Reflect. Pray. Write a letter. Whatever works for you. Just do it.
13. Guided visualization
There are a plethora of visualizations out there. Do a quick search on YouTube and you'll find loads. Or use my favorite meditation app, Insight Timer.
Try a few and find one that works for you. Body scans are a great way to bring your awareness back into your body. Or a safe space/happy place meditation where you bring to mind a comforting environment.
The mind is a powerful tool. Use it to bring you peace rather than dis-ease.
14. Wrap yourself in a blanket
Better yet, get a weighted blanket. Feeling something soft and heavy on your body is a great way to self-soothe.
15. Doodle, color, draw mandalas
Art is another trick for helping your brain switch from a reactive space to a more centered space.
Creation is a mindful act and one that's easy to forget about. I started drawing my mandalas during some of my most difficult times. They were a huge resource for me.
There you have it.
In a world that's constantly telling you to go, go, go... I'm here to remind you to slow down. Come home. Take a breath and feel your feet on the ground.
You are safe and you are loved. 💖