Grounding: A Body-Based Practice for Calm

Emotions are not just in our minds. We carry emotions in our bodies. No-brainer, right?

Before I continue, I want to address a question I got about the practices I write about here. Obviously, I will not claim that any of these will magically have anyone recover from mental health challenges. However, we also know that when we are experiencing stressful symptoms we can become dysregulated. These practices can help significantly as we navigate these cycles.

We all know that when we are stressed we have physical sensations and hormones are released such as adrenaline. Can you just tell yourself to snap out of it, just relax already? Once we calm our bodies first, then we can calm our minds. Here is a way – become aware of your body by grounding.

Grounding turns on your innate calming response aka parasympathetic response. With practice this will help you in the long term. Depression, PTSD, anxiety are often caused by negative past memories or fearful future anticipation. Grounding helps quiet the fight/flight/fear response.

Here is how to ground: Note: to see how this helps you, write before and after how you feel. Also, practice these daily when you’re feeling relatively calm so that it becomes a natural skill

Write on a scale of 0 to 10 how you feel. 0 being perfectly calm and 10 being the most anxiety.
Notice that you are siting, the sensation of where you are contacting the chair (floor, bed, etc.). Notice the sensation of your feet on the ground. Pick up and immediately put down your right foot. Then your left. Alternating right then left a few times slowly.
Feel into your feet, legs, your body supported in the chair.
Become aware of your spine and lengthen your spine.
Notice your breath.
Focus now on your arms and hands.
Place your hands in a prayer position. Feel the light pressure of your hands and their temperature.
Then press your hands together with more pressure for a moment. Release pressure and then do this pressure/release a few times.
Now just look around slowly. Just be where you are.
Notice that here and now you are safe.
Now do a gentle body scan from head to feet.
Rate how you feel now.

Even if you didn’t notice a change, keep up the practice. With time you will very likely notice that this practice calms you significantly.

Since we have posted about many techniques, we would appreciate hearing from how implementing these have helped you!

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