Grounding Techniques

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

For anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks and/or nightmares.

In those moments, it can be hard to think of what to do. Please consider writing yourself a to do list for those moments that you can go through. Whether it is things from this list I am sharing with you or your own grounding methods you have thought of. Write a step by step of how to get yourself grounded that you can have on your phone or notebook. This will make it easier when you're feeling panicked and/or stressed to navigate through calming techniques. Another tip is to try some of these things when you're calm. Don't try them for the first time when you're in a panicked state.


Physical Sensations

  • Put your hands in cold water (you could even hold an ice cube.)

  • Squeeze something soft like a blanket or stuffed animal.

  • Hold a favourite item like a stimming toy or something you love. If you are outside, consider picking up a leaf (or rock etc) and examining it and how it feels.

  • Put your hand over your heart and feel it. You are here. You are present. Inhale (through your nose) for four seconds and Exhale (through your mouth) for six seconds.

  • Cuddle or pet your dog/cat if you have one.

  • Pick up and touch items close to you. Feel the texture of them, the weight. Really focus on these traits.

Think of things you enjoy touching. I know someone who keeps bubble wrap around so they can pop it when they feel distressed.


Taste

  • Drink or eat something (if you can) with a strong taste. (Something really sour, maybe something spicy, or anything with a strong taste.)

  • Chew gum or suck on a mint or similar.

  • Let a chocolate or similar melt in your mouth. Really focus on the taste and the sensation.

  • Drink a cold or hot beverage.

Please be aware of your limits. Are you going to be able to focus on this? Is there risk of you choking if you panic and/or dissociate heavily?


Sight

  • What do you see now? What colours are the walls? What is the floor made of? Name five items in the room with you?

  • Flip through photos that you like

  • Read a book, article or something you enjoy reading.

Scent

  • Spray a scent that is non triggering like a body spray, or air freshener.

  • Have some essential oils to smell when you need.

  • Do not light a candle if there is a risk of you dissociating too much to remember it. This can be dangerous. Please only light a scented candle if you are certain it is safe to do so.

  • Smell your favourite foods, or candy with a strong smell.

Sound

  • Put on a non-triggering movie/show/youtube video

  • Put on some non-triggering music.

  • Listen to the sounds where you are and list them off. Are there bugs chirping outside? Are people doing work outside? Do you hear a heater/fan going? Etc.

  • Play nature sounds (there are apps that do relaxing sounds. Consider downloading one.)

  • Call a friend. (If this happens in the middle of the night, maybe ask a trusted friend to send you some recordings you can play of them saying calming things for you?)

  • Listen to an audio book or read a book you like out loud.

Other

  • Have an anchoring phrase/mantra like: “My name is ___. I am ___ years old. I live in ___. I am safe.

  • Have a soothing or distracting app you go to on your phone. (There are colouring apps and just nice games or activities to do.)

  • Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method.

Remember that even if it does not feel like it right now, you are going to be okay. You’ve gotten through this before and you can do it again. I believe in you. I hope you believe in you, too.





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