Overwhelmed? Try One of These Grounding Techniques

CPTSD Foundation
4 min readDec 20, 2023

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Everyone experiences anxiety and stress. Life’s demands and our lived experiences can leave us feeling emotionally overwhelmed and flooded. The good news? You hold the power to hit the pause button and equip yourself with effective tools to regain control in such moments. It’s a humble and simple daily practice that can be quite challenging.

Grounding techniques offer a way to anchor yourself to the present, helping you manage and flow through these emotions.

Embrace the Present Moment:

Imagine an oak tree standing tall in the middle of a powerful storm. What keeps the tree upright and prevents it from being uprooted by the fierce winds? It’s the extensive network of its deeply embedded roots. In a similar way, grounding techniques serve as your emotional roots, allowing you to maintain a firm connection to the present moment, even when the storms of anxiety and stress swirl around you. The primary goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety, but rather to empower you to effectively manage it while remaining securely grounded in the here and now.

Engaging the Mind and Senses:

One powerful grounding technique combines the focus of your mind with the awareness of your senses. Let’s explore an approach that’s effective for many individuals:

1. Move Your Body: Changing your physical position can work wonders. If you’re seated, stand up. If you’re indoors, step outside for a moment. Engaging your body can disrupt the loop of anxious thoughts, redirecting your attention to your surroundings.

2. The “Categories” Game: Challenge your mind to play the “categories” game. Think of items that fit into specific categories for each letter of the alphabet. For example, names of animals, famous people, or types of cars. This exercise nudges your thoughts away from anxiety triggers and into a more structured and engaging mental space.

3. Colorful Observation: Gaze out the nearest window and start naming all the green objects you see. Notice the various shades of green — how they differ and merge. This simple act of observation and description shifts your focus to the external environment.

4. Tune Into Music: Music is a universal language that can bridge the gap between anxiety and calmness. Play a favorite song and listen intently. Instead of letting your mind wander, zero in on one instrument. Explore its sound, nuances, and rhythm. This exercise engages your auditory senses and helps anchor you in the present moment.

Much like learning a new skill, using grounding techniques takes time and practice

Patience and Practice:

Much like learning a new skill, using grounding techniques takes time and practice. Think of it as rewiring your brain’s response to stress. Rather than sitting with the discomfort of activation, you’re actively moving through it. Each time you employ these techniques, you’re building a bridge to a calmer state of mind.

Embracing these techniques requires a shift in mindset. It’s not about erasing anxiety, but about learning to manage and flow through it. The next time you feel anxiety knocking on your mental door, remember the tools you hold — the power to ground yourself, pause, and find less activation in the present.

As you navigate through life’s challenges, remember to keep these grounding techniques in your toolkit. They serve as your lifeline to inner peace, a constant reminder that you possess the ability to maintain emotional balance even in the midst of life’s most turbulent moments. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you empower yourself to navigate anxiety and stress with increased resilience and heightened awareness.

I invite you to try integrating these grounding techniques into your day. Let us know what you like and what lands well for you.

For coaches and therapists, I invite you to explore my training courses with evidence-based and practical interventions. You will be able to immediately apply strategies to assist your clients effectively. Discover more about the courses and enroll today at https://app.ce-go.com/erenadigonis/courses.

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Originally published at https://cptsdfoundation.org.

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CPTSD Foundation

Successfully equipping complex trauma survivors and practitioners with compassionate support, skills, and trauma-informed education since 2014.