By Elle Balchin, Rehabilitation Consultant – OT
Grounding is a technique that can be used as a part of a meditation or sitting practice, or just as a quick strategy to re-centre yourself after a particularly unsettling encounter with an employee or client, to calm the mind before a big presentation, or pretty much any time you can feel your mind is overwhelmed or distracted and you need to come back down to earth. Earth, grounding, you get it.
This is slightly different to mindfulness: in mindfulness, you pay attention without judgement to whatever feelings and thoughts are happening right now. Grounding is more about managing your focus purposefully on the present moment, where you are safe and secure. This mental affirmation of safety helps to reduce the physiological fight or flight response – lowering the heart rate, steadying the breath and calming the mind. As my director puts it, grounding helps you to get out of your head where you might be overwhelmed or anxious, and into your body where you are safe and secure.
Not every strategy will work for everyone, it’s good to try a couple and see how you feel and what works best for you. Here are a couple of examples of quick, simple practices you can use at your desk:
The body scan. Sit in your chair and mentally catalogue your body from your head to toes, noticing how each part feels as you move along. “I can feel a breeze on my scalp, my hair brushing my shoulders, my watch around my wrist…”. It might also feel good to notice where you are holding tension in your body (forehead, shoulders, etc), and make a conscious effort to let it go as you work your way through.
Remind yourself of who you are, now. “My name is ___, today is Wednesday 19th August 2020, I am here at my desk in the office, I am safe.”
Five senses. List off five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste.
Deep touch. Stamp your feet into the ground, bunch your hands into fists, hold yourself in a hug and squeeze, close your eyes really tight and scrunch your face up.
Write a list of every item you can think of starting with your first initial.