Grounding is a term and technique used in many modalities of therapy for various mental ailments. It is also a technique used to protect us from the dangers of electricity. Let us use that analogy for a minute. An electrical wire carries an amount of current to a specific place so a specific task can be accomplished. We plug in a tool requiring that electricity and the wire ensures we get what we need to operate that tool. Electricity is an element of our universe that can be harnessed and created for our use. It can also be deadly if not channelled correctly which is why we put grounding into our design to ensure our safety. Our bodies are very similar in that we have a brain that produces impulses sending messages to the right place in our bodies for the right tasks. If the brain gets overloaded we are sent into an explosion of chaos. As with electricity that surge is what causes the damage. By building in our fail safe for our brain we can limit the damage of these surges. Grounding technique can help do that. By learning them ahead of time and making them part of your plan, you can protect yourself from the mental surges we all face at times.
As part of the stress response in our bodies, blood leaves the brain and goes to the areas of the body that may need that extra boost, such as extremities and heart. This means our brain does not have the energy store it needs to function effectively. To counter this we need to kick start our brain into sending the message that it needs resources. We can do that in two different ways. We can use our senses or our thinking power.
To use your senses you can use a countdown technique:
5 Things you see around you right now
4 things you can feel right now
3 things you can smell right now
2 things you can hear right now
1 deep breath.
If you are a more visual person, look at your hand. Label each finger as a sense and as you go through your hand identify one thing for each sense that you enjoy. For example: your index finger is sight. What is something that makes you smile when you see it? Complete a finger for smell, hearing, and feeling. Use your thumb for breathing.
Breathing is a super easy way as it reminds us of this exact moment. It is real, tangible and now. Focus on feeling your exhale on your upper lip. Don't worry about counting or your thoughts. If your mind wanders off, that is okay. When you realize it has, just go back to the feeling on your upper lip.
The second technique is engage the brain. By forcing yourself to think you begin the process of bringing blood back to the brain. You need to remember that the thoughts need to stop the spiral. Staying in the spiral and thinking about the same things over and over again, simply keep the body in stress mode. Change the dialogue. Ask yourself the 5 W's
Who is around me?
What am I seeing right now?
Where am I?
When did I get here?
Why is the sky blue?
Here are some other tips to use. Notice how they each have an element of using your senses or engage the thought process.
- look around the room and pay attention to details
- pick an item in the room and pretend you are describing it to someone with limited sight. Include all the details
- put a cold cloth over your eyes, or touch a cold bottle, or put you hand under cold water.
- draw your focus to a sound, a voice , something you can hear and listen to intently
- step on the group in bare feet and feel the earth under you
- listen to soothing music.
Remember the idea of grounding is to stop the surge of chaos and bring it back to the source. Imagine the colour of the chaos cloud and use your deep breathing to blow the cloud away. See it drifting off. The stress is simply chaos our brain has no idea what to do with. Teach your brain what to do with it. You are in control. Plan for the chaos and be prepared.