I’m always looking for ways in which I can ‘come back to earth’ especially in moments when my senses are feeling overwhelmed. This is when I’m either dealing with too many emotions and memories or too little which is usually a very numbing or dissociative feeling. During these moments of extreme anxiety I tend to focus on a technique called grounding. Grounding brings you back to the present and to reality. When you feel grounded you are here, in the physical, in the present. It allows you to feel focused and centred.
There are a number of ways you can ground yourself mentally and physically. These methods work through distraction by forcing you to focus outward on the external world, detaching from emotional or physical pain. Mental grounding means focusing on your mind. Physical grounding means focusing on your senses such as what you can see or hear.
An example of mental grounding would be to describe your environment in detail using your senses such as “The carpet is blue, the desk is brown, the air smells like the ocean.” You can do this anywhere, I’ve even done this on a film set or in a rehearsal. It’s all about labelling objects, sounds, textures, colours, smells, shapes and temperature. Another example would be to play “categories” with yourself such as think and label “types of cats” or “TV shows” really fast. Counting to ten or saying the alphabet backwards really slowly is also another example of mental grounding. I also like to read something really slowly and say each word to myself or read each letter backward so that I focus on the letters and not the meaning of the words. All of these are examples of mental grounding.
Examples of physical grounding would be to touch various objects around you. This way you are engaging with the object and focusing on its texture, weight and temperature. You can even compare objects you touch, which one is colder or lighter? Running your hands under cold or warm water is another example. Jumping up and down. Stretching. Clenching and releasing your fists. Grabbing hold of your chair tightly and sticking your heels into the ground as hard as you can. Carrying a grounding object or stress ball in your pocket. I used to carry around a puffy stress ball in the shape of a cheese cake on a short film set and reached for it whenever I got nervous. These all sound really silly but once you do them a few times it slowly brings you back to earth and they become a habit. You can also make up your own methods of grounding.
The important thing to remember with all methods of grounding is that, like with affirmations in my previous post, repetition is the only way it will work. It’s important to practise as often as possible and through trial and error notice which ones work best for you. Over time you gradually start to notice the difference grounding makes in your work or even just in your day to day routine. I’m continuously exploring new ways that make me feel centred and I’ve found that grounding definitely takes the cake.