Easy Grounding Exercises to Calm the Nervous System

Grounding has come up in conversation for me several times this week and, as it is a very healthy skill and tool to have, I thought I might share it with you. Grounding is a technique that helps us reorient to the here-and-now, to bring us into the present. They are a useful technique if you ever feel overwhelmed, intensely anxious, or dissociated from your environment.

 

Simple Grounding Technique

  1. Place both feet flat on the floor
  2. Lean back into your chair, and make note of the feeling of the chair under you and against your back.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest
  4. Gently tap your shoulders, alternating one side at a time.

Alternatively, you can place your hands on your thighs if you are in public, tapping one leg at a time. Although not as effective as shoulder tapping, this technique can still calm you down.

 

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise

The “54321 game” is a common sensory awareness grounding exercise that many find a helpful tool to relax or get through difficult moments.

PROCEDURE

1.     Describe 5 things you see in the room.

2.     Name 4 things you can feel (“my feet on the floor” or “the air in my nose”)

3.     Name 3 things you hear right now (“traffic outside”)

4.     Name 2 things you can smell right now (or 2 smells you like)

5.     Name 1 good things about yourself

You should feel calmer and more at ease by the end of the exercise. Repeat the 5 steps more than once if needed. Try out the technique in different situations, you may find it works well for insomnia, anxiety, cravings when quitting smoking or for general relaxation.

 

These techniques work best if practiced regularly (every morning for example) for about 2 to 3 months in order to create the habit, as remembering grounding exercises in a moment of stress or panic is difficult if it is not something we do on a regular basis. 

Water Lily

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, it is peace admidst the storm.” – Unknown