Grounding Techniques #2 – Using Your Senses
I hope those of you that have tried the grounding breathing useful. I have had confirmation that it has been helping people so that is great news. I recommend checking out and practising “Grounding Techniques #1” first. The breathing really is the basis of practising grounding and, for maximum benefit, I recommend practising it briefly each time you use the techniques described here. As simple as these techniques are, they really do help in bringing you into and ‘grounding yourself in’ the present moment. This is really important in being ‘present’ in your life, as I have often been told: “to live in the past is to live in Sadness, regret and Depression, and to live in the future is to live in fear and Anxiety. Of course, we must think of the future for planning etc., and we have to think of the past to remember important things, learn from our experiences and so on. However, if we are constantly out of the present moment, we stop engaging in life and disconnect from ourselves and ultimately those around us too. Also, it all too easy to be go through the motions of our daily tasks, so much so that we can lose touch with our experiences and can even continue to go through the motions of life without engaging with it. Also, we may spend out time constantly thinking “I must get x done otherwise Y won’t ever happen. However, when Y comes we can forget how to enjoy it as we are no longer used to being present moment. Now, what is grounding via using your sense? Well, it is simply focusing on one aspect of your experience at a time, engaging with it and bring your focus into the ‘here and now’. Later, you can engage your senses more simultaneously, embracing the totality of experience. So, let’s get to it.
Using your senses: Touch, Sound, Taste, smell & sight.
Before using your senses to ground yourself, try some breathing. Also, if you are standing feel the ground beneath your feet, feel it supporting you and try literally to connect with the ground. Is the ground hard or soft? If you are sitting you can do also do the same by sitting up right (relaxed but not slouched) and feel your feet on the ground, and feel the chair supporting your back, and top of your legs and buttocks, maybe even your arms on arm rests. Again, is the ground and chair hard or soft? There is no need to do anything, just practice breathing and feel the connections and your body being supported for 30 seconds to a few mins or whatever suits you best. You may not be in a position to do this and that is fine, this is just an aid however you can still ground yourself using sense without doing the above.
Note: These are only common suggestions. Once you have the idea, feel free to create your own based on your situations and what works for you. Take your time doing these, it is not overly useful to just do one of these for a couple of seconds and carry on. Try to take a couple of minutes at least. Try to focus and really experience them as they are.
Touch– if you do the above, you are already doing this. Other things you can do are to focus on:
- How your clothes feel on your body.
- If you are holding a bottle of water you can focus on how it feels to hold it. Can you feel the ridges? What do they feel like? Does it feel colder where there is water?
- Squeeze a small/ squidgy ball.
- Place your hands under running water and turning them over and rubbing them together.
Smell– there are thousands of receptors in the nose that lead to the amygdala (the brain’s fear response and emotion centre), calming smells can do wonders in self-regulation and relaxation.
- Carry essential oils with you, maybe choose a smell which relaxes you. You could even wrap a lavender tea bag in handkerchief as a substitute.
- Take time to notice smells from nearby flowers, coffee shops, food places, a loved one’s hair during a hug.
- Go outside, take in all smells from shops, train stations, fields of grass, can you smell the scent of freshly washed clothes?
- When you buy something new, does it have that ‘new smell’?
Sight– Anyone can see Watson, but do you observe? – Sherlock Holmes
- Ok, that quote might be wrong, but in one of the books he says something similar….. You get the idea ?
- Take a look around you, focus one by one on all the things you can see that are blue. Then, focus on the things you see that are red.
- Choose an object, and focus on it. What is its shape? What are the colours? Can you experience its textures, ridges and patches of shade? Is the shade graded?
- Do you have any favourite photos on your phone or hard copies you can carry with you?
- Take the time to admire any scenery you come across; don’t just see it, observe it.
Sound– is there any sound in silence?
- Focus on any sound you can hear. Is it loud? Is it far away? Does it have a rhythm or pattern?
- Focus on nature, can you hear birds? Rustling in trees? Can you hear one animal or several? Are they in harmony?
- Listen to music. Music can have a huge impact in your mood. Try to hear what instruments are playing and how they complement each other. When using music to ground yourself, try not to listen to a song that makes you feel sad or triggers memories that may bring you down and into the past. Find something that makes you feel calm and relaxed, make a playlist.
Taste– Ever tried the Raisin exercise from Kabat-Zinn?
- When you eat, eat slowly. Can you taste all the flavours? The textures? Does it feel warm or cold? Dry or moist? Hard or soft?
- Feel the food in your mouth before you chew.
- Chew gum or suck on a mint or hard boiled sweet.
- Carry a drink around with you (preferable one without a lot of sugar or caffeine). Drink it little and often, focus on the flavour and how it feels to pour it in your mouth and swallow.
As mentioned, these are very simple and if you wish you can create your own. The importance here is to really engage and experience with the object of your grounding. Whether it be sight, sound, smell, touch or taste, experience it fully, focusing on one object at a time. Take time out to do these at appropriate points throughout your day. Especially make use of ‘dead time’ in between tasks where you may have a minute or two spare which you cannot do much else with. Snatch an opportunity whenever you can ?