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Using Grounding Techniques to Manage Your Mental Health

Using Grounding Techniques to Manage Your Mental Health

You may have dreaded hearing the phrase “you’re grounded” as a child, but grounding techniques are far from being a type of punishment. These strategies can be used to help you stay connected to the present moment and manage anxiety, stress, anger, fear, sadness, or other overwhelming emotions. 

Benefits of Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are useful tools for managing your mental health because they can be performed anywhere and require no special equipment or training. Some of the benefits of incorporating grounding techniques into your self-care toolbox include:

  • Help shift your focus. Depression and anxiety often involve rumination and fixation on negative thoughts or worries about the future. Grounding techniques provide a way to shift focus away from these intrusive thoughts and bring your attention back to the present moment.
  • Give you a sense of control. Strong emotions can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Grounding techniques offer a way to regain a sense of control by providing tangible strategies to manage symptoms and cope with distressing emotions.
  • Calm your nervous system. Many grounding techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, activate the body’s relaxation response, which helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” response often triggered during periods of anxiety or stress.
  • Promote emotional regulation. By engaging the senses and focusing attention on immediate sensations or experiences, you can regulate your emotions more effectively and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed by negative feelings.
  • Encourage self-soothing. Grounding techniques often involve sensory experiences, such as touch, taste, smell, and sight, which can activate the brain’s reward centers and promote feelings of comfort and safety. Engaging in self-soothing activities through grounding can help you cope with distress and create a sense of inner calm.
  • Increase coping skills. Learning and practicing grounding techniques can enhance your coping skills, providing you with a toolbox of strategies to use when you encounter triggers or stressful situations. Over time, consistent practice of grounding techniques can even strengthen the neural pathways in your brain that are associated with resilience and adaptive coping.

Examples of Grounding Techniques You Can Try

Everyone’s preferences are different, so it may take a bit of trial and error to find grounding techniques that fit your unique needs. Try practicing the following grounding techniques in various situations and environments to see how they impact your mood and well-being.

  • Deep breathing. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths as you pay attention to the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. This helps to calm your body’s nervous system and reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Tense and release each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This helps to release the physical tension associated with stress, anger, or anxiety. 
  • Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a calm, peaceful place such as a scenic beach, a beautiful forest, or your favorite vacation destination. Visualize the sights, sounds, and smells of this place to help create a sense of relaxation.
  • Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness practices such as body scans or mindful breathing help bring awareness to the present moment and encourage you to observe your thoughts and bodily sensations without judgment.
  • 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Challenge yourself to notice and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps to ground you in your immediate environment.
  • Grounding objects. Carry a small object with you that you can touch or hold onto when you feel overwhelmed. This could be a smooth stone, a piece of fabric, or a stress ball. Some people even find that fidget toys marketed to children to be a welcome distraction. 
  • Grounding via movement. Physical activities such as yoga, tai chi, or stretching exercises can help connect your mind and body.
  • Counting. Count backward from 100 by threes or any other sequence that requires you to focus on the task at hand instead of the situation that is causing your distress. 

Grounding techniques can be used individually or in combination to help you manage distressing emotions and promote a sense of calm. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you, then practice your favorites regularly to ensure maximum effectiveness. 

Get the Resources and Support You Need to Be Your Best Self

While grounding techniques can be an important part of your self-care toolbox, sometimes you need additional support. When mental health challenges disrupt your daily life, Raleigh Oaks Behavioral Health in Garner, North Carolina, provides the resources you need to thrive. From initial assessment and diagnosis to rapid stabilization and ongoing support, we’re with you every step of the way. Take the first step towards healing and contact us for a no-cost confidential assessment


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