When you were a kid, being grounded was a bad thing. Now, as an adult, it has an entirely different meaning, and grounding techniques can help you manage intense emotions or when you feel overwhelmed.
Grounding is a self-soothing technique that helps keep you mentally present in the here and now. When addiction threatens to overwhelm you, using a grounding technique can help distract your mind.
Here at Olympus Recovery, we have the experts to help you find the techniques to deal with your alcohol or drug-related cravings. This includes learning how to ground yourself. One of our first steps is to understand what’s triggering the need for drugs or alcohol. We can help you determine this and avoid pressure situations. Once you have taken that step, you can work on ways to calm yourself when presented with addiction cravings.
But how exactly do you ground yourself? Here are our top nine techniques for you to try.
If you want to know how to ground yourself, try local temperature variations as something as simple as a temperature change can help you focus and calm your mind.
To try this technique, choose something that is either hot or cold, avoiding extremes or anything that could cause physical harm. For example, you could hold onto an ice cube, place your hands in warm or cold water, or even dip your face in ice water. Once you are holding the object, focus on the temperature difference. Then, ask yourself how does the item feel in your hand? What temperature is it? If holding something cold, does it shock your face? If using something warm, does it relax the tension in your hands?
2. Hold an Item
Touching something can help remind you that you are in control of yourself, so why not try allowing an item to ground you physically?
Start by choosing an item. You can select any item, as it is not the item itself that helps ground you – it is the feeling of the object in your hand that will allow you to regain some control over your emotions. After choosing your item, hold it in your hand and close your eyes. Next, focus on how the item feels: Is the stone smooth or rough? Is soft? Does it feel the same all over? Continue to focus deeply on the item, thinking about different elements of the item until you start to feel grounded.
By focusing the mind on the exact texture of a specific object, you can pull your thoughts away from the things that threaten to overwhelm you.
3. Savor Flavor
Food can bring a wide range of flavors. Whether you are popping a piece of gum in your mouth or sitting down to a comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup, the flavor brings something into your world that is outside the norm. This method is often recommended to those who want to know how to ground themselves.
To try this grounding method, take a bite of something delicious and savor it. Next, let the flavors sit on your tongue. Let them overpower and replace the draw that drugs or alcohol have on you at that moment.
Try to pick out the individual flavors and ingredients contained within that single bite. Then, let the experience contained in that bite move you away from your anxiety and into a place of quiet reflection.
4. Deep Breathing
When searching for information on how to ground yourself, trust the teachings that have been around for thousands of years, such as deep breathing, which has long been associated with yoga practice and calming the spirit. Breathing exercises help loosen up the muscles in the torso and can allow you to flush thoughts and tension from your body mentally.
To try this technique, find a comfortable place to lie down. Next, take a deep breath by breathing in slowly through your nose. Notice how your chest and lower stomach rise as your lungs fill with air. Finally, breathe out through your mouth. It may be even more beneficial to picture an image that makes you happy while you practice deep breathing.
We use yoga and deep breathing techniques at many of Olympus Recovery’s addiction treatment programs. Contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can help you harness the power of grounding techniques as part of your recovery journey.
5. Scent Soothing
You’ve heard the saying stop and smell the roses. Well, there is value to old sayings. By allowing yourself to focus on a scent, you’re separating the physical from the mental. Scents can trigger memories. They can also enable the mind to travel down a new path, allowing you to separate yourself from habits and tendencies that have caused you stress in the past.
To practice this grounding method, first, close your eyes. Then, notice what you smell. Roses? Fresh bread? The first crisp day of fall? Whatever it is that you smell, allow it to wash over you and soothe your mind. Many people find this grounding technique very pleasant, and you may return to it repeatedly.
6. List Reciting
Another tip for grounding yourself is to use the structured act of creating lists in your head. This can be particularly useful when you don’t have any other items around you or are in a busy place, and using lists is an excellent way to distract your mind by forcing it into a routine.
Start making some top-ten lists. You don’t have to share the lists with anyone, but it can be a great way to get your mind back on track. Try to make up new lists on any topic you like. For example, you could try making a list of your top-ten 80’s movies, top-twenty types of candy, or top-ten popcorn flavors. Making lists allows your brain to slip into a comfortable place and can help reduce the focus on whatever threatens to overwhelm you.
You may even want to share the lists with someone. Perhaps it could be something you work on together. As long as you are bringing order to your mind, you’re on the right track.
Stretching relieves tension and is a great grounding technique that has also been shown to positively affect mental health.
Your back is the easiest part to stretch, so try this method by first stretching your hands up to the ceiling. Then drop your hands to hang loose as close to your feet as possible. You’ll find that regularly doing this can help loosen up knots in your back you didn’t know you had.
This technique, simply known as the 5,4,3,2,1 Technique, is a great way to bring your mind into focus as you learn how to ground yourself.
This technique follows five steps that move in descending order.
- Name five things you can see around you
- Name four things that you can touch around you
- Name three things you can hear around you
- Name two things you can smell
- Name one thing you can taste
This is a quick helper when you are stuck in a space and can feel the need creeping up on you. By combining observation with list creation, you are fusing two grounding techniques into one.
The benefit of the 5,4,3,2,1 technique is that it can become a habit that helps you defuse tense mental situations before you even come to them.
Music soothes the mind and is an excellent grounding technique.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, first flip on your favorite streaming service. Then, if the music moves you, start singing along. The actual music can help calm your mind. One piece of advice, if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try to pick out soothing music. Something soft and melodic might be the best for days when you need to know how to ground yourself.
You Aren’t Alone
Feeling anxious is a natural tendency, and learning to ground yourself can help manage periods of anxiety or overwhelm.
At Olympus Recovery, our goal is to help you with every aspect of your addiction recovery journey, and we use grounding techniques as part of our substance abuse treatment programs. We’d love to help you or a loved one find the path to an addiction-free life. So call us today on 888-979-1805 to speak with one of our expert admission specialists, and let’s take that first step of the recovery journey together.