Grounding & self soothing techniques for emotional regulation
When you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or experiencing distressing emotions it is helpful to focus on aspects of the physical world, rather than on just your internal thoughts and feelings. This can help us to connect to our body and re-ground ourselves and from this place we are much more able to find clarity and make sense of what we’re feeling.
“Compassion can be described as letting ourselves be touched by the vulnerability and suffering that is within ourselves and all beings. The full flowering of compassion also includes action: Not only do we attune to the presence of suffering, we respond to it.” Tara Brach
Below are grounding techniques to help you to focus and ground your awareness in the present.
Sensing the Breath
Observe your breath and feel the sensation of breathing within your body. Explore the depth of your breath and begin to slowly deepen your breath.
Engage one or more of the five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound).
- Clench your fists then relax your hands, repeat.
- Touch your hands to the ground
- Hold an object and feel into the sensations. Idea: Touching each bead on your Mala whilst repeating a mantra such as Sat Nam, Om, I am I am or your favourite affirmation can be very effective.
- Identify opposite sensations hot/cold, soft/hard, comfortable/uncomfortable, relaxed/tense
- Touch or massage your feet, arms or legs
- Engage in rhythmic activities (knitting, biking, swimming, dancing)
- Wrap a blanket around yourself
- Swallow any saliva in your mouth
- Remember the taste of your favorite food
- Drink water
- Sip herbal tea
- Eat delicious healthy food and describe the flavors
- Breathe deeply to identify any scents in the room
- Use essential oils ie. lavender, sandalwood
- Identify colors, textures, shapes, people in your environment. eg. Identify and name 3 distinct colors in the room
- Look at and be nature. At the trees, plants, birds etc
- Listen to the sound of your breath
- Identify 3 different sounds you hear in the room/far off in the distance
- Listen to the sound of your voice. What do you notice about the way you are speaking?
- Listen to mantra music
- Say positive affirmations to yourself
Releasing and soothing emotion through movement
If emotions are quite intense it can be helpful to release endorphins and help the Nervous System adjust through movement to ease the intensity.
- Shake the hands or body
- Stretch the body
- Play out the emotion or sensation through movement. ie. running on spot, pushing away etc
- 26 x Frog Pose
Self touch to connect to self
Technique compliments of Peter Levine
“Just feel what goes on between the hands and the body. Sometimes they will feel an energy flow or a change in temperature or a feeling… I just ask them just to keep their hands there, it could be a few moments, or 5 or 10 minutes, until they feel some kind of shift.” Peter Levine
“Then take the upper hand and put it on the belly. And again just wait until there is some shift, until there is some flow, and sometimes people, if they are unable to sleep or they are afraid, they will have nightmares. If they do simple things like that, they will fall into sleep much more easily.” Peter Levine
Taking time out
Resting in Child’s Pose can be very soothing and restorative. Allowing your body weight to sink into the ground, dropping the shoulders and allowing your breathing to become slow and deep. You can close off to all the external stimuli and settle your mind on your own breath and sensation, inviting the body and mind to relax with each breath. Variations: Knees wide; head lifted on a bolster or your hands; hugging a bolster in the pose.
Breathing can settle things
Let’s not forget about the power of your breath. If we can consciously direct our breath than we can begin to affect the state of our mind. Take some time to connect with your breathing at different intervals in your day. Firstly simply notice the nature of your breath without needing to change anything and then when you feel ready begin to deepen and slow your breath working with your breath capacity in this moment. Each time you inhale feel your rib cage expand, your back broaden and draw the breath deep into the lungs. As you exhale allow your shoulders to relax, feel the release of the breath and draw your abdomen back towards your spine emptying your breath out completely. Notice that moment when you decide to inhale again and repeat, exploring the depth of your breath.
Left Nostril Breathing:
- Gently block your right nostril with your thumb or finger and breath long and deep through the left nostril.
- Continue for 3 mins or when you start to feel a shift within
- This breath is an effective way to calm the mind and gently stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, inviting the body to relax.
Counting your Breath:
- Inhale to the count of four, pause
- Exhale to the count of eight, continue
- This breath rhythm can help settle the feeling of anxiety and calm the mind
Refocusing the Mind with Mantra
When our mind is continually busy with incessant thinking, worrying and ruminating we can become tired, confused and negative. Using mantra can help to elevate the frequency of the mind and give us a positive way to refocus our minds so that we can find some clarity and calm. Here are three different ways to use mantra to focus the mind:
- Using the mantra Sat Nam (Truth is my identity/I listen to my truth) with your breath. As you inhale mentally vibrate Sat and on your exhale mentally vibrate Nam.
- Repeat the mantra ‘Peace begins with me’ out loud or silently in this way:
- Touch your thumb to your index finger on ‘Peace’
- Touch your thumb to your middle finger on ‘begins’
- Touch your thumb to your ring finger on ‘with’
- Touch your thumb to your little finger on ‘me’
- Listen and chant along to your favourite mantra music. Here are some artists and songs I love, to get you started exploring mantra music.
If there are any strategies you love and help you ground, settle and re-connect please share in the comments below. We’ve all been there!
Siri Bhagvati | Billie Atherstone