What are grounding techniques?
Grounding techniques are personal strategies that can allow us to manage the panic, fear or anger brought on by traumatic memories. The purpose of them is to restore a sense of calm and balance, giving us the ability to step away from the bad memory or overwhelming thoughts and anchor ourselves in the present.
What is the usefulness of grounding techniques?
One of the many benefits of learning grounding techniques is that they can be done anywhere, and they can be as simple as pinging an elastic band against your wrist or focusing on steady breathing to become calm. Grounding techniques can also help you manage your anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD flashbacks, unwanted memories, dissociation, or trauma. It can help the body calm itself and realize that there isn’t an actual threat present.
Steps on grounding techniques
Direct your attention toward an object of focus
To stay grounded, choose an object to intentionally direct your attention toward. This object doesn’t necessarily have to be external; it can be anything that you find useful in that moment.
Examples might include your breath, your body, or an external stimulus. Your choice of stimulus depends on the environment and the type of activity you are performing. The next three techniques include an object of focus.
During a body scan, you intentionally focus on different parts of your body. For example, if you are seated, then you might focus on the parts of your body that make contact with the ground or the chair. You will then shift your attention to other parts of your body. This can be done in a systematic way such as scanning your body from your toes to head or by following the sensations that you experience.
Focus on your breath
In this technique, you will intentionally focus on your breathing. Your aim is to maintain your focus on controlled inhalation and exhalation and to count your breaths. This technique sounds easy, but it is surprisingly tricky!
Begin by shifting your focus to your breath, inhale for three seconds,
Becoming aware of external stimuli
This technique is especially useful in situations when you are focusing on objects in the environment. For example, when you can feel that your mind is dancing around or you are struggling to focus, you can intentionally shift your focus to something external in your environment.
Grounding techniques are powerful tools to help you cope with tormenting thoughts in the moment.
However, if you realise that such techniques do not work, then it is time to get help from a therapist so you can address the root cause of your distress. If you don’t have one yet, check out our list of therapists here: