Today's Welfare Week prompt is grounding & nature, what better way to kick of a week full of fun events and welfare information than with our top tips on grounding, a technique you can use to calm anxiety, overwhelm, and trauma.
Grounding, firstly what the heck is it? Well, grounding is a technique used to calm anxious thoughts and feelings of overwhelm by focusing on the world around you and sensations in the present moment. Grounding techniques can help to refocus your attention and create space from distressing feelings in most situations!
There are 3 main types of grounding techniques: physical which focuses on the 5 senses, most notably touch; mental which focuses on creating mental distractions; and soothing which focuses on recreating positive emotions. It might take some trial and error to find the right type for you, or a combination of each might be your new go-to!
Here are some ideas, once you get the gist why not think of your own! Top tip number 1 is to write down which techniques that work for you, especially if you think of them yourself! When you're in need you'll have a handy resource to refer to.
Physical Grounding Techniques
Breathe deeply, reciting 'in' and 'out' can help you keep an even pace, think about the temperature of the air, how it tastes and the physical sensation of your body moving in and out with the flow of air.
Savour a food or drink, take small bites and really chew your food, think about how it tastes and smells.
Take a short walk, focus on the sensation of your steps, are you heavy-footed? How does the earth feel beneath your feet, is it soft or hard?
Listen to your surroundings, can you hear bird songs, heavy traffic or people talking? Focus on how far or near the sounds are, can you order the sounds by how close they are?
Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method, working backwards from 5 use your senses to list the things you notice around you. Make an effort to notice the smaller things you might not normally pay attention to.
Mental Grounding Techniques
Use an anchor phrase, this is usually something simple like 'I am <name>, I am X years old, I live in Leeds. Today is Monday, 15th November 2021. It's 3 in the afternoon and I'm sitting at the desk in my studio. It's really easy to kee adding by noting the weather and how many people are nearby etc.
Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behind, this could be popping them into a box, swimming to shore and getting out of water or your thoughts as a tv channel that you can switch over or turn down the volume on.
Use colours, pick a colour and think about all the different ways you could mix that together e.g. orange, by mixing yellow and red, how would you make that orange darker or lighter? What colour compliments it really well?
Recite something, if you have a favourite book, poem or film that you know off by heart, go over it in your head or aloud, picture each word as you say it in your head or focus on the way your mouth moved with each sound you're making.
Write a short story about what's going on around you, grab a paper and pen and write about the space you're in, what colour are the walls, are they textured, does the carpet match?
Soothing Grounding Techniques
Picture the voice or face of someone you love, imagine them telling you that 'although this is tough right now, you'll get through it'. Picture the small details of their face, do they have freckles, how long is their hair.
Practice self-kindness, think of what you would say to a friend or a 7-year-old version of yourself, and direct it at yourself now. We can only ever do the best we can with the resources we have in this current moment and that's ok.
Visualise your favourite place, whether it's the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all your senses to create a mental image, what time of year is it, who's there with you?
Practice gratitude, list 5 things in your life that bring you joy, think about the 'because', what is it about this thing that you're thankful for?
Touch something comforting, whether that's a fluffy cuddly toy, a smooth stone, a flat surface, a soft carpet. Spend a moment thinking about how it feels on your skin, is it warm or cold?
Grounding isn't always easy, it can be tricky to remember these ideas in a distressing moment. Top Tip number 2 is to practice grounding regularly when you aren't feeling distressed, if you can get used to what works for you it'll make it easier to think of when you're not feeling great.
Top Tip number 3, check in with yourself before and after, finding what works for you is trial and error. If you can rate your discomfort at the start and the end of a grounding technique it'll help you to work out which type or which practice works best for you.
Fitting with today's prompt, why not try focusing your grounding techniques on nature? Earthing is a really great example of this. Earthing is the practice of reconnecting yourself energetically to the earth. It's been related to reduced inflammation, cardiovascular disease, muscle damage chronic pain, and mood! All you need to do is find the closest patch of earth and take off your shoes to really feel the ground beneath you and release energy that's no longer serving you and soak up that which will.
You can focus on the feel of the earth beneath your feet, imagine roots stretching down into the ground to anchor yourself to the earth or even imagine the sensations that you'd experience earthing on different surfaces, like sand and concrete.
Let us know of any grounding techniques you've already tried in the comments below!
Tag @leedsartsunion in all your Welfare Week activities! Check out the What's On calendar for even more events here: https://www.leedsartsunion.org.uk/whats-on