Do you ever feel like you are losing control and spiralling into panic? You feel so stressed you don’t know what to do?
Often when we feel intense stress it’s because our brain and body have taken over and feel threatened and unable to cope. But doing some grounding activities will likely help your body come back to a place of calm and send signals to your brain that you are safe in the present moment and not at threat.
Learning ways to ground yourself will help you be able to self-regulate your emotions when you are feeling overwhelmed. As a counsellor I talk about grounding techniques with clients to find out what works for them. There may be ones that work better for you than others and trying a few out when you are feeling stressed will help you to know what might help.
Here are 4 tips for you to try to help you come back to the here and now and reconnect with yourself when you are feeling stressed:
Take a Break
- Taking some time out from your thoughts and worries about what’s going on can really help. Remember, it’s OK to take a break. Even if you are very busy, try to make space to do a quick body stretch, drink some water, stroke your pet, listen to your fave song and laugh at an online video.
Tense and Relax
- Being able to meditate and completely relax your body doesn’t work for a lot of people, especially when there is so much swimming around in your head. Instead, you might find it works better to tense all your muscles up: clench your fists, curl in your arms and legs, clench your toes and scrunch your face – hold it for a few seconds and then release. Notice how your body feels now. Can you notice it wanting to relax?
- I call this the countdown game. Treating it as a game can give you an incentive to want to get to the end. Essentially, you name things and count at the same time. There are a few different versions, and you can make your own. I like to start with naming 5 things I can see that are blue, then 4 things I can see that are green, continuing with different colours counting down the numbers until I get to 1. This helps my clients to look around the room and reconnect with what they can see in the present moment. As there is so much focus needed it helps take the brain away from the stressful thoughts. You can switch it up to use different senses and different numbers.
- We need to breathe to stay alive. When we feel stressed it can be common for our breathing to speed up, causing us to take lots of short breaths, which can result in more panic and headaches. Try to notice your breathing and focus on slowing it right down, taking slow and steady breaths in and out. This will bring oxygen back to the brain and help you feel more grounded.
Being stressed is a normal part of life, but finding strategies to cope, if you feel it is beginning to take over, can really help you take back some control.
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.