When you close your eyes, can you visualize your favorite place? What emotions and thoughts come to mind as you recall your last time there? If it’s somewhere far off, go back through your pictures, think of the time spent, it’s important to remember. Just don’t limit your expectation of joy and comfort to an experience you had in the past or is available only in the future. We need strategies that support our wellness now.
Creating tools that we utilize proactively and as needed, instead of solely as a response to a critical event best supports our emotional and physical health. Grounding is a technique which emphasizes our focus on the present and things that we can become aware of to calm and soothe. With the stress inducing circumstances that have become prevalent, advance considerations are needed to manage our wellness and plan for care.
When we are repeatedly exposed to stressors a response is created over time. This may be a physical response in which our bodies react in ways you don’t initially recognize, such as increased heart rate, feeling ill at ease or queasy, difficulty with focus, or problems being able to rest. Often times our bodies anticipate distress and unless interrupted, negative associations are reinforced over time. An impact on our emotional wellness is also likely, with the increase of symptoms such as excessive worrying, negative thinking, depression.
Grounding allows us to build awareness of our experience so that we can remain present in those times where a lack of resources and overwhelm can trigger experiences of stress, fear and difficulty remaining hopeful. In these moments, and ideally in advance the following grounding tools may be helpful.
Consider your 5 senses. Sight, hearing, taste, touch, and scent. As a proactive response to counter or manage stress, what are some things you can identify for each sense that can be helpful in keeping you focused and present when your tendency may be to detach and avoid feeling or the potential for pain? What are some things you do currently that work, or what can be used for each sense in a way that soothes you, creates a positive distraction and sensory experience, also reduces the experience of distress? These may be things familiar or new , and different things work for different people. Here are a few examples:
Sight- Placing natural elements like plants in your space evokes a sense of visual calm, focusing on the details of a leaf, or focusing on pictures of faces of people/ details of places nearby which are comforting to you is beneficial; Similarly taking time to be outdoors and view the sky when taking a break allows a change of perspective and environment; creating softer visual spaces by turning off harsh or fluorescent overhead lights and utilizing lamps to create an impression of greater tranquility can also be used.
Hearing- Turning on upbeat music/ playing your favorite song, listening to an inspirational podcast, listening to sounds from a sound machine known to be soothing such as a running stream or rain; calling or talking with someone who cares for you and listening to their voice is likely to offer some calming benefit
Taste- Brushing your teeth or chewing a piece of gum and focusing on the essence of the mint, drinking a glass of cold water and noticing the coolness as well as the sensation when you swallow, having a piece of chocolate or a spoonful of peanut butter and observing the texture and flavor can be used for grounding.
Touch- Cupping your face with your hands and allowing yourself to feel the warmth from your palms, making yourself a cup of tea or coffee and feeling the heat, hugging your spouse, petting your dog, squeezing a stress ball slowly and repetitively are ways to diffuse tension.
Scent-Using a diffuser for aromatherapy especially scents known for relaxation like lavender or improving energy such as citrus, with lemon or orange; long lasting soy candles have similar qualities.
Utilizing these grounding strategies or others can with practice successfully shift your focus and reaction from something negative to an intentional activity that creates a pleasant awareness and healthy self care response.
Make Time for Healing,