People in recovery often struggle to deal with anxiety, PTSD, anger management, and the general mental health effects of past trauma. If you find that your emotions trigger cravings, grounding techniques can help you keep your recovery on track by providing a way to bring your mind to the present and keep it from wandering into a negative state.
How Grounding Helps
When used regularly, grounding techniques can:
- Prevent you from worrying about what other people think of you
- Keep you from wasting time feeling guilty about your past addiction-related behavior
- Stop you from letting one setback or bad moment ruin your whole day
- Guide your attention away from thoughts of past danger and towards your present safety
Grounding Techniques to Try
The effectiveness of grounding techniques depends on individual needs and circumstances, so you may need to try several different options to find one that works for you. Be patient with this process and remind yourself that every calm and positive thought you have is a step in the right direction.
One of the most popular grounding techniques is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. It involves describing your surroundings in as much detail as possible. Here’s how you do it:
- Name five things you can see. This could be the general physical items around you or smaller details such as the way light reflects off a surface or the specific shades of blue you find in a pretty patterned blanket.
- Name four things you can feel. Focus on the physical sensations you’re experiencing, such as how your clothes feel against your skin or the warmth of the sun on your face.
- Name three things you can hear. Focus your mind on the sounds you’d normally tune out, such as trees blowing in the wind or the sound of a ticking clock.
- Names two things you can smell. Notice the smells in the air around you, such as the smell of someone cooking dinner on a grill or the aroma of freshly cut grass. You could also try inhaling something that has a specific scent, such as a flower or candle.
- Name one thing you can taste. Ideally, you’ll want to carry gum, candy, or a small snack for this step.
Other ideas to consider include:
- Have a “grounding chair” in your home where you can go to connect with the physical world around you.
- Take a cold shower or wash your hands with cold water to provide a physical sensation that brings your mind back to the present moment.
- Count backward from 100.
- Pick up an object that brings you comfort and focus all of your energy on it.
- Savor the taste of a favorite food or drink that you associate with a pleasant past experience.
- Breathe deeply while inhaling a favorite essential oil or perfume.
- Recite a poem, song, or book passage that brings you comfort.
- Make yourself laugh by watching a funny video clip or telling silly jokes.
- Visualize your favorite place.
- Mentally list all the small things that bring you joy, such as cuddles from your pet or enjoying a fresh cup of coffee in the morning.
- Describe the steps in an activity you enjoy and know how to do well, such as cooking a favorite meal or playing a specific board game.
- Stretch your body by extending your fingers, arms, or legs as far as you can, then rolling your head around gently.
Grounding Technique Tips
Generally speaking, grounding techniques are most effective when you use them as soon as you start to feel bad. If you wait until your emotions have become overwhelming, it will be more challenging to center your mind and bring yourself back to a stable baseline.
As you’re practicing your grounding techniques, try to remain factual and neutral. Instead of judging yourself for your negative thoughts, notice how they ebb and flow over time.
Promote a Lasting Recovery by Healing Your Mind, Body, & Spirit
Maintaining your sobriety is about more than simply abstaining from addictive substances. For a lasting recovery, you need access to a full continuum of care that takes a holistic view of your unique needs.
At Waypoint Recovery Center, our goal is to provide you with the tools you need to promote a lasting recovery. Clients at our South Carolina residential treatment center have access to services that include individual, group, and family therapy, as well as an intensive outpatient program and continuing care/recovery management services. As they make the transition back to independent living, they are encouraged to use grounding and other self-help techniques to address the mental health challenges that led to the development of their addiction so they can move towards a sober future with confidence.