Grounding activates your body's relaxation response, which helps you feel calm, present, and focused. Get started with one of these grounding exercises.
Use your breath to calm your nervous system and focus your mind. Taking a few minutes for mindful, grounding breath can help you think more clearly and ride out intense emotions.
How to practice box breathing:
- Step 1: Breathe in counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Try to avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth/nose for 4 seconds.
- Step 4: Hold your breath for 4 seconds
Repeat until you feel re-centered.
How to practice belly breathing (aka diaphragmatic breathing):
- Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
- Tighten your stomach muscles, so that your stomach moves back in, as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.
Pursed Lips Breathing
How to practice pursed lips breathing:
- Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose for two counts, keeping your mouth closed. Don't take a deep breath; a normal breath will do. It may help to count to yourself: inhale, one, two.
- Pucker or "purse" your lips as if you were going to whistle or gently flicker the flame of a candle.
- Breathe out (exhale) slowly and gently through your pursed lips while counting to four. It may help to count to yourself: exhale, one, two, three, four.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
How to practice 4-7-8 breathing:
- Close your mouth, and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
- Hold your breath, and mentally count to 7.
- Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a “whoosh” sound and mentally counting to 8.
- Repeat this cycle at least three more times.
Gentle movement can help calm your body during challenging situations. Calming your body is a great first step to take when you're feeling stuck in an intense emotion or overthinking mind.
Place palms together in front of chest with fingers pointing down. Move shoulder blades together and down back. Inhale, rest in this position. Exhale, press palms together. Imagine that the movement starts in your back and shoulder blades. Notice anything that changes as you practice.
Repeat 3-5 times
Interlock the index fingers of both hands in front of chest. Move shoulder blades together and down back. Inhale, rest in this position. Exhale, pull fingers against each other, without letting go of clasp. Imagine that the movement starts in your back and shoulder blades. Notice anything that changes as you practice.
Repeat 3-5 times
How to practice the squeeze hug:
- Cross your arms over your chest like you are giving yourself a hug.
- Hold on to your upper arm and squeeze your arms toward your torso.
- Find the right amount of pressure for you.
- Breathe deeply if it feels good.
- Continue squeezing for a few minutes.
Begin seated in a chair, feet flat on the floor. Press one foot slowly into the ground. Release, and press the other foot slowly into the ground. Imagine the movement starting in your upper leg and hip. Continue like this for several breaths. If it feels good, you can speed up or slow down movements. Notice anything that changes as you practice.
Repeat 1-3 times
Begin in a comfortable seated position. Inhale, lift your toes. Exhale, lower your toes. Repeat 5 times. Inhale, lift your heels. Exhale, lower your heels. Repeat 5 times. Notice anything that changes as you practice
Any of your 5 senses and your self-talk can help you feel present and grounded. Use your senses to let go of worried thoughts or lessen painful emotions. If you like, you can also say something encouraging to yourself as if you were talking to a friend.
How to practice butterfly tapping:
- Cross arms over torso, opposite hands on shoulders.
- One at a time, tap shoulders with hands.
- If it's more comfortable, you can tap your legs or knees instead.
- As you tap, state a simple phrase to yourself such as, “I am ok.” “I can do this.” “I am safe.”
How to practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique:
Say aloud or in your head to yourself:
- Five things you see around you.
- Four things you can touch
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you smell or taste
- Take One breath in and out.
Repeat 1-3 rounds.