Grounding techniques help you distract and recenter when having anxiety or flashbacks. When we become anxious or triggered, our mind becomes focused on the trigger or memory. It tends to fill the mind, becoming overwhelming. Grounding techniques help us refocus on our physical sensations to become more present in the here and now, not so stuck in our heads, and become aware of the present.
Here is a common grounding technique to practice:
5 Things you see:
Look for colors, shapes or items in the room.. Looking fore more detail can also help focus, for example the grain of wood on the arm chairs, the colors of books o the shelves.
4 Things you can touch:
Feel hair, skin, fabric of a couch, and fur of an animal, anything present in the room with you. Focus on the physical sensation, how it feels, and the texture.
3 Things you can hear:
Listen for air conditioning, traffic, the click of the clock, the heartbeat of an animal or in your own ears.
2 Things you can smell or taste
One of the things I keep in my office is mints. The tang and different taste helps to reorient. Get a cold glass of water, iced tea and focus on the sensation of taste. Other possibilities can be the bitterness of the coffee.
1 Good thing about yourself or the present
If you can notice one positive thing about yourself to help refocus, that is fantastic. Some people are not there yet, and that is okay as well. Find one good thing about the present, and it can be as simple as you like your socks, the day is beautiful, etc.
Have fun with it as you can. Practice a few times a day, so that when you need it, it will be easier to focus on. A few minutes a day will help decrease anxiety and increase focus and concentration.
Laura Janikowski, LCSW