Feel Overwhelmed – Grounding Strategies (Part 2)
Dear Tacit (Part 2),
I feel so overwhelmed that it is sucking the joy out of everything I have planned. Suggestions?
Signed: On Overload
Dear On Overload (Part 2),
Last week we began to discuss grounding strategies that help us recentre and regain control when we are feeling overwhelmed. We touched on some simple body techniques. Here are a few more:
You can use body wiggle movements (shake and bounce every part of yourself for 2 minutes or more) – dance – yoga stretches – or some progressive muscle relaxation techniques, to help you refocus on what is happening right now. There are excellent feet movement techniques you can try to ground yourself as well (Kristen Neff offers some easy ones to try – along with some kind/self compassion self-talk strategies that can help ground us when we our thoughts have taken a negative turn). Crying, forcing laughter (even when nothing is funny), yelling/screaming into a pillow, or singing at the top of your lungs are also great ways to use your body to regulate yourself back to the present moment.
Throw a ball up against a wall, and practice catching it. Add a little twist (turn around, clap your hands under your leg, do a toe-touch) in between the toss and the catch, to make it more complicated, to help keep your mind on the moment. Rock back and forth, or sway side-to-side for 5 minutes or so (more is better) to cause the release of calming hormones in the body/brain. Use appropriate indirect physical aggression – punch a pillow, break something that you have purchased specifically for these release moments, etc. But be safe!
There are also lots of ways to ground yourself mentally. Try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise, and say each thing out loud (5 things you can see; 4 things you can feel; 3 things you can hear; 2 things you can smell; 1 thing you can taste). Read aloud – recite your favourite poem or song – count to 10 in another language (one that you don’t often speak) – or say your alphabet backwards. Play a categories game (out loud) with yourself – how many red things can you see right now?
Talk to a friend about their life – teach someone something – distract yourself with your hobbies/things you are passionate about. Colour, draw, create Zentangles, paint, sculpt or do anything that requires some creativity and focus. Play a game on your phone. Watch videos or Tik Toks that make you laugh.
And lastly, there are some amazing self-soothing techniques that will help with your grounding practices. Make a list of your favourite people/places/things (called a List of 100) – anything that helps make life just a wee bit easier/nicer to experience – and get into the pattern of using a few of them every day. Use visualization techniques to first create and then spend time in a relaxing, safe place. Your brain cannot tell that it’s not real and will respond accordingly. Step outside and spend time in nature – or watch from the open window (so you can still soak in the air, the smells, and the sounds). Listen to some scientifically created sound tracks, designed to lessen anxiety/depression and soothe the mind (anything with a 528hz on YouTube – or “Weightless” by Marconi Union). Use free apps designed to help you refocus in a soothing way – like Calm or Headspace.
Cuddle with a pet – try meditation (its okay if you do ones that are just a few minutes long, to begin) – hold a hot mug in both hands and sip a yummy beverage – enjoy some comfort food – place your hand on your face/cheek or on your solar plexus and tune into the warmth sensation that emanates into your body. Practice EFT (Tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique) – there are lots of ways to learn the basic steps online. Or make it a therapeutic process, and learn how to incorporate safety statements and positive reframing (with the Tapping, or on their own), through the help of a trained professional.
Grounding techniques can be used while we doing other activities, or as an exercise unto themselves. They can take 5 min or an hour – whatever you have time for. The trick to enhancing the impact that these tools have on our lives is to practice them often. While they effective in a crisis moment, they are also a wonderful preventative way to ensure the hoopla of life doesn’t take over. So, get started today – and experience as many different grounding exercises as you can, to build yourself a tool box large enough to help keep you grounded/steady when like gets chaotic.
Have a question? Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You answer will be provided confidentially.
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