What does it mean to be “grounded” anyways?
Life is hard. It can be busy and hectic and overwhelming. How do you possibly stay above water when you feel like you are drowning in all of the work and obligations that you have in your life? One tip is to become grounded. This isn’t some fancy electrical wiring kind of thing (though there is a ground wire that I often see mention of when I’ve hung ceiling fans before). This is about metaphorically having your feet on the ground and being planted so that you aren’t swept away by all the stress and worry of life. This is a coping skill, a technique that you can employ to deal with stress and anxiety and depression. It is a multi-faceted act that can have benefit in numerous areas of life. But as with any skill, it will take time to get good at this - so stick with it. Not every technique works for every person, but as these take time please give it a few attempts before giving up on it if it seems unhelpful at first.
There are some simple ways to begin learning this skill that can make this effort much easier and more effective. In this post I will walk you through a simplified version of grounding using the traditionally identified five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing).
This and the next few blogs will cover some of the ways to incorporate this kind of activity into your life. Step one will be to find a few minutes where you can be alone with your thoughts. Ready? Let’s begin.
I can see clearly now
This part of the project is probably the easiest to begin but one of the more challenging to actually accomplish. Most of the information we have about the world around us comes from our sight, the visual map we make of our surroundings – everything we see. Because we are so used to using our sight you will likely find that it is easy to manage and control what we look at and you probably have a pretty good idea how to focus on specific things. However, because we use sight so much it can be rather easy to get distracted with this exercise. This means that you will need to focus. The first few times you practice this (or any of the other grounding exercises) you will probably want to find a quiet space that you can sit comfortably and not be interrupted for a bit. When first beginning this kind of visual training some people may find it challenging if there is too much or too little noise. What I have found helpful when first engaging in this practice was to have some soft background music playing - preferably something instrumental so I wouldn’t be tempted to sing along. So, have you found your quiet-ish place? Good, then read on to actually put this into practice.
Do you see what I see?
Here’s how to “ground” yourself visually, at least this is one way to do it. Try and find some small detail that you can focus on and give it all of your attention. Notice the shapes and curves, the edges, the colors, every detail you can think of about this item. Let your gaze wander all along the item. What can you see when looking slowly and carefully that you may not have noticed before? This exercise can help you calm yourself with such an intentional focus and begin to lessen your stress as it sits in the background. If you find yourself getting distracted, don’t fret, just slowly remind yourself that you are trying to be intentional and begin again.
Continue this exercise for a few minutes the first time (maybe 5 minutes) and see how you feel afterwards. If you don’t find that this was particularly beneficial, or it was too hard to concentrate maybe give it a few more attempts before throwing in the towel. But also keep in mind that there are other options to pursue. The next few blogs will cover the other senses and connected grounding activities.