2020 has become an unprecedented year of fear, change and loss with the current COVID-19 pandemic. People have lost jobs or lost a loved one amongst other difficult adjustments.
It is important that we do our best to look after ourselves and our minds during this time. After all, if we aren’t healthy mentally or physically, it becomes impossible to care for ourselves and those we love.
Here are 10 grounding techniques for you to try whether you’re at home in lockdown, or still working in an essential services job.
1. No one is happy all the time
Remind yourself that we all have good and bad days. It would be abnormal to be happy-go-lucky 24/7.
From family stress to work stress, it is OKAY to feel sad or angry. A problem arises if we stay too long in the sadness or anger.
Cry if you need to. Spend time alone if you need to.
But please, don’t isolate and sink yourself further into the darkness.
2. Deep Breathing / Meditation
Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat this as many times as needed. You can also close your eyes if it helps.
Notice your breath as it slows.
This is a great way to begin meditation, too. People tend to feel hesitation when they hear the ‘m’ word, but it doesn’t need to be difficult.
Start with 1 minute each day. Then increase the time once you feel comfortable.
3. Physical sensation
While seated, put your hands on the tops of your thighs. Pay attention to your feet on the ground. Wiggle your toes. Slow your breath.
Feel the chair supporting you.
After a few minutes, notice how you feel.
4. Describe what’s around you
What are the first 3 items you see?
Describe the texture, colour and function.
You can say it out loud or in your head.
5. Get up and be active
Sometimes simple exercises like yoga, stretches or taking a stroll can help us feel grounded and relaxed.
Put your favourite music on, or watch a guided tutorial and get moving.
Use soothing affirmations like:
- “I’ve gotten through this before. I can do it again.”
- “It has not been an easy road, but I’ll get through it.”
- “I am capable of problem-solving and will find a way.”
Repetition creates a habit. To change our thinking, we must actively take part in phrases that empower and uplift!
7. Plan an activity
This can be done either alone or with a loved one. Schedule a video call, game night or ‘paint-and-sip’.
What do you like to do? What’s something you’ve wanted to try?
Planning an activity helps us look forward to the future.
8. Make a list of everything you’re grateful for
Gratitude is a fantastic way to get our minds in a positive headspace. Although our world may be falling apart, there is usually something to be grateful for.
I make a list of daily things including: shelter, a wool blanket, food in the pantry. I pay special attention to things that I often take for granted. It centres my thoughts and leaves me content.
9. Reach out to a friend
Letting our friends know what we’re going through can be a good way to ground ourselves when we start to feel anxious.
They can give us perspective and simply listen when we’re upset.
Friends are great to remind us who we are, what we’re capable of. They can also give us a different perspective on a situation.
Don’t forget to reach out to people who care for you.
10. Schedule an appointment with a trusted professional / mental health practitioner
This is a tip I always encourage because what we feel, can’t always be solved with a fun activity or chat with a friend.
Some of us struggle with unresolved trauma and major changes in life.
There is no shame in that.
It is better to seek help than to wait until it’s too late.
Add to your Box of Usefulness
As you learn new techniques and ways of coping, add them to your list. Make a mental note or write it all down in a notebook.
Having things to refer to in the future can ease our fears when we know there is a plan in place.
The beauty of human nature is that we can be great at adapting. It just takes practice.
I believe in you.