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Grounding yourself when you feel out of control

Feet on a rocky beach

Feeling stressed? Here is some ideas for grounding yourself when you feel out of control

Periods of high stress can be uneasy and unpleasant to experience, and typically difficult to cope with. It’s not uncommon to have experiences of feeling stressed to the point of feeling out of control. It’s what we do in those stressful moments to bring us back to a calm and relaxed state that is important, rather than sitting there with our thoughts consuming us.

Grounding techniques are ways in which you can reduce your amount of stress and anxiety, refocus your attention back to the present moment, and overall calm yourself. Stress and moments of anxiety can sneak up on us when we least expect it; that’s the great thing about grounding techniques – you can take them with you wherever you go, and more often than not, all you will need is yourself to be able to practice them.

Focusing on your feet.

This grounding technique is as simple as it sounds. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes and shift your attention to your feet. How do your feet feel inside of your shoes – are they comfortable, or are your shoes feeling a bit tight?

Have a think of how your socks feel against your feet and inside of your shoes – are your socks brand new and have still got their soft fuzzy feeling, or are they maybe a bit of an older pair and feel a bit more rough?

Take notice to the temperature are your feet – are they freezing like an ice cube, or are they warm and cosy inside of your socks? Wriggle your toes and see if you can change the direction in which you wriggle them.

After sitting there for a short moment focusing on your feet, it is likely that you will begin to feel a slight tingling sensation in your toes or feet. Take notice to what you can feel in your toes and feet. And then when you are ready, you may open your eyes and bring yourself back to the present moment.

Counting 5-4-3-2-1 for grounding yourself when you feel out of control.

The 5-4-3-2-1 exercise is another grounding technique that you can take anywhere with you that you go. Take a seat and begin by looking around your surrounding environment – what are 5 things that you can see? List them – whether it is in your head or listing them aloud.

Now thinking about where you are sitting, and perhaps what parts of your body is touching – what are 4 things that you can feel? If you are struggling to list 4 things that you can feel while sitting, explore the texture of different items in your surroundings by picking them up.

Next when sitting down again, listen out for 3 things that you can hear and list them. Which sound is most pleasant to be listening to? After, what are 2 smells that you can smell in your surrounding environment? And last, but not least, what is 1 thing that you can taste?

Can you taste the flavour of the coffee that you just drunk? You may even like to put a piece of gum or flavoured lolly in your mouth to see what that tastes like. Repeat this exercise as needed and see if you can create a new list of sensations each time.

Cognitive awareness grounding exercise.

This grounding technique works to re-orient yourself to the time and place you’re in. It’s quick to practice if you don’t have enough time to complete a slightly longer grounding technique. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Where am I right now?

2. What is the day today?

3. What is today’s date?

4. What month am I in?

5. What year am I in?

6. How old am I? (Bonus points if you can work out the exact number of years and days of your age).

7. What season is it?

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