Before you made the decision to seek addiction treatment, you may have used drugs and alcohol to help you cope when you were feeling stressed, upset, angry, or depressed. To move forward with your recovery, you’ll need to come up with alternative coping mechanisms that help you live a wellness-focused lifestyle.
Grounding techniques are simple, evidence-based activities that are used to help people manage overwhelming emotions and stressful situations by encouraging them to focus on the sensations they are experiencing in the present moment. Grounding techniques can be extremely helpful for individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder.
It is common for individuals in the early stages of their substance use recovery to experience feelings of anxiety and emotional distress. Grounding techniques can provide an opportunity to pause, take a few moments to focus on the present moment, and become more aware of physical sensations in the body. This can be especially beneficial when cravings arise, as it provides a fresh opportunity to break the cycle of addiction by increasing self-awareness and choosing healthy ways to bring one’s emotional state back into balance.
Grounding Techniques That You Can Incorporate Into Your Recovery Journey
There are a wide range of grounding techniques that can be beneficial for people in recovery from substance use disorders. Here are some that you may wish to try:
- Focusing on your five senses. One of the best-known grounding techniques, this technique involves taking a few moments to pay close attention to your five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. List five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This exercise is sometimes referred to as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
- Guided visualization. If you’re in an environment that is causing you stress or anxiety, guided visualization might be more effective than the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. Guided visualization involves imagining a soothing and calming scene in order to help reduce stress levels. This can involve picturing a peaceful beach, a forest, or whatever image you find the most soothing.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group in the body, starting from your feet and progressing up to the top of your head. By doing this, you can physically relax the body while also helping to increase awareness of tension levels in different parts of your body.
- Deep breathing exercises. Taking a few moments to slow and deepen your breathing helps to reduce physical tension and calm the mind. One specific exercise to try is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Breathe for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and breathe out slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this exercise at least three times.
- Connecting with nature. Taking a walk in nature and focusing on the physical sensations can be a grounding experience that helps restore balance to your mind, body, and spirit. When you’re walking, pay close attention to the rhythm of your steps—you can even try counting them.
- Journaling. Writing out your thoughts and feelings is a great way to process them in a healthy manner and let go of any negativity. Noticing the physical sensations associated with putting pen to paper can also help promote a calmer state of mind.
- Yoga. Practicing yoga helps bring focus and awareness to your body while calming the mind. Notice how your body feels with each movement.
- Listening to music. Listening to calming music can be a great way to relax and let go of anxious thoughts. If a particular song gives you the “chills” or creates other memorable physical sensations, this can be helpful as a part of the grounding process.
- Aromatherapy. Diffusing calming essential oils can help promote a sense of relaxation and peace in the body. Lavender, sandalwood, chamomile, or frankincense essential oils are all great options for grounding. Inhale the fragrance and take note of how the smell affects your mood.
- Connecting with others. Talking with someone you trust and feel safe with is a great way to connect and ground yourself in the moment. This could be a friend, family member, or your sponsor.
The best way to determine which grounding techniques are most effective for you is to experiment with several options and note how they work in various situations. Everyone’s needs are unique, so it may take some trial and error to determine what techniques work best for you. Be patient with yourself during this process, and consult your treatment team for further guidance.
Waypoint Recovery Center Is Committed to Your Success
Our South Carolina residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment center takes a holistic approach to recovery by encouraging clients to focus on developing healthy habits and learning effective ways to cope with everyday challenges. This includes the use of grounding techniques, as well as participating in 12-Step programs to build a stronger sober support network and utilizing family therapy to promote healthy communication throughout the recovery process. Contact our admissions representatives today to learn more about how we can help you take the first steps toward a brighter future.