Does it ever feel like too much?

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When you are overwhelmed with emotional pain, you need to find a way to gain control of your feelings.

Grounding is a simple set of strategies to help:

  • distract you from what you’re experiencing

  • create space for more positive feelings

  • feel safe by 'anchoring' you to the present

Anchor Yourself With Grounding Techniques

Are you experiencing a painful flashback, having a substance craving, or faced with an emotional trigger?

Practice grounding at any time, any place, and anywhere!

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Grounding helps create distance between you and these feelings.

There are so many different ways to ground. Try these techniques:

  • Focus on the present, not the past or future.Keep your eyes open, scan the room, and turn on the light to stay in the present.

  • Rate your mood — 0-10, where 10 means "extreme pain" — before grounding and after. This can help you understand if your emotional pain went down.

  • Stay neutral when describing what you feel: no judgments of "good" or "bad."


You're having trouble focusing on work because of an unpleasant memory. What should you do?

Mental Grounding

Describe your environment in detail using all your senses.

  • Try It Now! Look around you and describe what you see: objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. For example, "The walls are white; there is one beige couch, there is a wooden table against the wall..."

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Describe an everyday activity in great detail.

  • Try It Now! Describe how you made coffee in the morning or a meal that you cooked recently.

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Say a safety statement out loud or quietly to yourself.

  • Try It Now! My name is ____________; I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am located in ___________ the date is _____________.

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Think of something funny to get yourself out of your bad mood.

  • Try It Now! Make yourself laugh by watching your favorite funny animal video or a clip from a comedy show you enjoy.

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What are some good ways to distract yourself?

Physical Grounding

Remind yourself that you're connected to the ground by dipping your heels into the floor.

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Notice your body: Wiggle your toes in your socks; feel your back leaning against the chair. You are connected to the world.

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Focus on your breathing. Notice each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale.

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When your new job responsibilities are piling up and it feels out of control, which physical grounding technique can help you detach from your stress?

Soothing Grounding

Say kind words to yourself as if you were talking to a child.

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Try It! "You are a good person going through a hard time. You will get through this."

Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (maybe beach or mountains, or your favorite room).

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Give yourself a safe treat: some candy, a nice dinner, or a warm bath.

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Take Action

Now that you know about the three ways of grounding, try one for yourself!

Create your own method of grounding with apps like Insighttimer and more grounding exercises from Winona State University.

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