A exercise to help bring you back to the present. You may want to try this exercise when you're feeling anxious or experiencing flashbacks.   

Photo by Broken Light Collective 

Why is grounding helpful?
Those who have experienced trauma may re-experience the event afterwards through flashbacks, dreams, and thoughts. Re-experiencing trauma from the past is scary, stressful, and can cause problems in a person's daily life. Grounding is a technique to help you switch your focus from the past to the present and take control of your state of mind. 

How to do grounding
During this exercise, keep your eyes open and try speaking aloud to yourself. Use your five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste) to concentrate on the environment around you. Below are a few suggestions for how you can use your senses. 

  • Sight: Look around the area. What do you see around you? What colour are the objects? What are they made of? 
  • Hearing: Listen carefully to the sounds that you hear around you. What can you hear? Concentrate on the background noises even if the area seems almost silent. 
  • Touch: Pick up an object around you and feel the surface in your hands. What does the texture feel like? Can you feel the shape? Be aware of your own body, notice when you move your hands and legs. Clench your fists or rub your hands together and pay attention to the feeling. 

You can also use your own thoughts to help keep you grounded. 

  • Remind yourself where you are: What time is it? What day is it? What time of the year is it? Where am I? What am I doing here? 
  • Make lists of different items. For example, think about different types of fruit, trees, Olympic sports, or anything you want. 
  • Count with numbers or go through the alphabet at different intervals.
  • Think about a safe place and imagine in detail what your safe place is like.  

Write down the techniques that are helpful for you so they can be at hand for you to remember next time. 

This material was modified from and with the permission of AnxietyBC

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