Simple, discreet techniques to calm down quickly

Have you heard of grounding techniques? Grounding techniques are a great way to manage anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. They can help with flashbacks, negative thoughts, and challenging emotions. They can be used to help to distract the person from their immediate feelings, bringing them back to the present moment and, in doing so, dulling down the intensity of the upsetting feelings.

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If you are struggling with distressing thoughts or are experiencing a lot of stress and intense anxiety, you can use your senses to ground your attention to the present time. You can create a feeling of calm and bring your focus to what is actually going on around you right now, rather than staying trapped in your inner world when having upsetting thoughts.


Why grounding works

The amygdala is a collection of cells near the base of the brain which have a role in responding to stressful situations and emotional responses. When we think of something that makes us feel anxious, the amygdala will go into action, initiating the fight or flight response – regardless of whether the threat is real, or imagined.

This then floods our body with unpleasant stress responses such as muscles tensing up, heart racing, and breathing becoming rapid. These responses then ‘confirm’ to the amygdala that something is wrong, and so the cycle of anxiety continues. 

The fight or flight response can be lifesaving if truly needed, but regularly triggering this response with anxious thoughts or memories is not only damaging, but also very unpleasant.

Grounding techniques help to break this cycle of anxiety. As mentioned before, they help you to get out of your head and instead tune into what is around you. Grounding can be done wherever you are, and no one needs to know.


Ways of grounding

There are three main ways of grounding – mental, physical, and soothing. ‘Mental’ means focusing your mind, ‘physical’ means focusing on your senses and ‘soothing’ means talking to yourself in a soothing and kind manner. Below is an example of each type:

Mental

Describe your environment in detail, using all your senses. For example, "The walls are blue. I can see a chair, there is a bookshelf to my left and there is a large window behind me…"

Include any sounds you can hear, any textures you can feel, any smells, and so on. You can do this anywhere. For example, on a train: "I’m on the train and I can see the trees passing by. The seats are red and blue. The poles are yellow. I am surrounded by windows. I can hear the noise of the train and people talking. I can taste my cup of tea…"

Physical

Focus on your breathing, noticing each individual breath, each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale and/or exhale, such as ‘calm’ or ‘safe’.

Soothing

Talk to yourself in a kind way. For example, you could say, "I am a good person. I will get through this. I can handle this."


As well as grounding there are many other practical, simple and useful techniques you can learn to soothe your mind and allow tension to melt away. Once you make the decision to start on this, you’ll find you are so much more prepared for any everyday stressors you may come across, meaning life in general is going to feel pretty good!

To take your first step away from anxiety and to receive a free grounding techniques handout, just drop me an email.

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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