Grounding Exercise for Increased Mindfulness
Written by Lalo Torres
Practicing mindfulness has several benefits, including increased empathy and compassion, improved immune functioning, increased happiness and optimism, improved sleep, greater focus and concentration, and reduced anxiety and stress.
Sounds great, right?! Don’t we all want to be more compassionate, happy, well-rested humans? We can spot those happy, well-rested people from a mile away. Their skin is glowing, their hair is flowing in the wind, and they pay for strangers’ coffees.
Gimme some of that, please! With an added shot of reduced anxiety and stress, cool & thanks! But is practicing mindfulness easier said than done? YUUUUPPPP.
We are always tested in life. Locking your keys in the car. Trying to set up your kid’s Zoom class. The grocery lady giving you a judgmental look for buying five bottles of wine on a Tuesday afternoon, missing a snatch attempt at a weight you should have easily made…Whatever it is, I REPEAT. Life will always test you. You might be able to run, but you can’t hide from life’s curveballs.
So let me give you a little piece of advice. Instead of running from your obstacles, choose to face your obstacles head-on. Learn to adapt to life’s challenges. Don’t run from them. Those who adapt will come out stronger, and those who run will eventually be caught and will have learned nothing. This adaptation better prepares us for our next obstacle. As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
Ok. So now for the good stuff. How can we stay composed when life is testing us? There are tools to help reduce fear, anxiety, and stress. One of those tools is a mindfulness practice called the grounding technique. This exercise aims to calm your mind by using your five senses to focus on your environment instead of your thoughts and can be used in any life or gym situation.
It goes like this…
Mindfulness Grounding Technique
When you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, etc. First and foremost, check your breath. Once you have steadied your breath, take three deep breaths. Then focus on your five senses.
Five Senses Exercise
Evaluate your environment. Notice 5 things that you can see. Try to pick out something that you don’t usually notice.
Notice 4 things you can feel. Bring attention to the things you’re currently feeling, such as your clothing’s texture.
Notice 3 things that you can hear. Listen for and notice something in the background that you don’t usually notice. It could be the birds chirping outside or a fan in the room.
Notice 2 things you can smell. Do you smell the trees outside or the dog that just pooped?
Notice 1 thing you can taste. This one might be a little hard but try your best. Are you chewing gum? Do you taste your mid-day burrito?
How does grounding work?
This technique helps bring us to the present moment. According to therapist Joanna Filidor, LMFT s “Grounding techniques are tools used to self-regulate in moments of stress and anxiety. They serve as gentle reminders to stay focused and anchored in the present moment, which helps reduce the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.”
Further, she states that “Grounding techniques can be anything that brings your attention to the present. When the brain is experiencing a threat (whether it’s perceived or actual), it affects the nervous system similarly as it activates our threat response. Grounding techniques allow for the body to calm itself so that it sends the signal that there isn’t an actual threat present.”
So if the cashier at Trader Joes is threatening you with a judgmental stare at your wine bottles, or you have a crazy work project that’s driving you insane, or as you approach the platform for your personal best attempt, try this technique. Drop us a line to share how you adapted to the situation and what you learned from it. How is this going to help you be a stronger, more resilient person?