Stress Awareness Month: Grounding techniques to relieve stress

Everyone faces difficult situations in life, and we all need a reserve of practical coping skills to help us overcome stress, especially now during the pandemic. If you don’t already have some coping skills handy, read on to learn a few quick and simple techniques to help you tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful circumstances as they occur. 

The grounding method of stress reduction is a collection of easy-to-use techniques to ground and anchor yourself in the present moment, keeping your mind focused on the here and now. Grounding techniques calm your mind by engaging your senses to the reality of your immediate surroundings, and help to distance you from negative feelings. 

Use a grounding technique when you feel stressed and overwhelmed, and repeat this until the feeling subsides and becomes manageable. You can read our April 7 blog post on World Health Day for instructions on the box breathing technique, which is very handy if you’re seated in front of a laptop or monitor. But any grounding technique will work just as well, so explore different ones and find what works best for you.

Instant calm 

Here are some other grounding techniques that can help alleviate discomfort when experiencing mental and physical stress. Use these approaches to stop and regroup. They will make a significant difference in how you respond to challenging situations. 

7/11. Breathe in for 7 seconds and breathe out for 11 seconds. The number of seconds is not as important as ensuring your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. This will relax your body and calm your mind.

Muscle tense, release. Focus on one muscle group at a time, squeezing and contracting it for about 10 seconds. Now, completely let go of that muscle group until it’s loose and relaxed. Notice the difference between how your body feels when you are tense versus being relaxed.

5-4-3-2-1: This is a great way to engage all your senses wherever you are.

  • Look at 5 things around you and examine these carefully. Pay close attention to the texture, shape and colour of each object.
  • Feel 4 things with your body. If you’re sitting down, feel the chair against your back, feel your feet on the floor, and feel your fingers on a table or against your thighs.
  • Pay attention to 3 specific things you can hear.
  • Concentrate on 2 things you can smell or taste.
  • Take in 1 deep, mindful breath.

Paying close attention to your senses and what is around you brings immediate calm.

Gratitude Journal. Keep a record of 3 to 5 things that you’re grateful for each day. These can be simple things like a nice meal, sun on your face, the chance to talk to a friend, achieve a task, and get a good night’s sleep.  

One of our guard.meCARES webinars—Tips on Healthy Coping Skills for Uncomfortable Times—provides tips on developing positive coping mechanisms to expand your toolkit of coping skills.

Get a deeper understanding of the impact of stress, and learn some useful grounding techniques by reading our previous blogs this month on the importance of daily self-care and stress management and how to redefine your relationship with stress.  

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