Do you feel overwhelmed by your environment? Do people or situations often leave you feeling drained? You may be one of the many hypersensitive people, or as Dr. Elaine Aron dubs them, highly sensitive people (HSPs) out there. Being highly sensitive can be difficult, but with the right techniques, you can ground yourself and feel better.
In this article, we'll discuss five grounding techniques that can help you navigate triggers, anxiety, and overstimulation:
#1 Become aware of your body
Start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. As you breathe, focus on each part of your body and how it feels. Notice any tension that you may be holding in your muscles and consciously release it as you breath in and down.
Another method for getting into your body is stomping. Stomping your feet on the ground helps to anchor you in the present moment and can be helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
And last, we recommend clenching and unclenching your fists. This grounding technique is great for releasing any pent-up energy or frustration you may be feeling.
#2 Practice mental exercises
There are several mental exercises that can help you feel more grounded anytime, anywhere. These mental exercises are simply focusing tools that bring your attention back to the present moment. One exercise that we like is counting backward from 100 by 7. It’s a bit tricky right? The difficulty of the task requires your complete focus which can help redirect your mind away from worry.
Another is spelling your name backward. For me, that's s-a-l-o-n-a-m and a-i-s-a-k. If you complete your name and still don’t feel grounded, you can also complete other loved ones' names. Focusing on your loved ones also helps generate an overall sense of connection, which is calming and grounding for your sensitive nervous system.
If you’re wondering if distracting your brain from anxiety-inducing thoughts really works, consider this:
In a study cited in Psychology Today, a group of children were given three different options before surgery to decrease their anxiety. “One group of children was given anti-anxiety medication, another group played handheld video games, and the third control group was given no medication and no video games before surgery. The kids in the video game group were the only ones to show a decrease in anxiety before surgery. They also required less anesthesia during the procedure and suffered from fewer medication side effects after surgery than children in the other two groups.”
This is one of many studies that proves distraction works.
Simply getting your mind off of anything bothering you, helps to reduce your heart rate, slow your breathing, and calm your body.
#3 The famous 5-4-3-2-1 technique
If you're familiar with grounding techniques, then you've likely heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. To do this grounding exercise, you simply need to look around and name:
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you feel
- 3 things you hear
- 2 things you smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Similar to a mental exercise, this helps remind you of the present moment and distract your brain from unwanted thoughts, feelings, and triggers.
#4 Try cold therapy
Hypersensitive people tend to have a hard time regulating their body temperature. So, if you're feeling overheated or overwhelmed, jumping into a cold shower can help you jumpstart your nervous system. Cold therapy can also be as simple as placing your hands in cool water for a few minutes. For an extra boost, try adding some cooling essential oils to your routine, like lavender or peppermint oil. And last, you can hold an ice cube in your hand and squeeze.
[And if you’re feeling cold, we recommend a weighted blanket. You can also try warming oils like cinnamon and clove.]
Cold therapy is effective at reminding you of the present moment, altering your body temperature, and physically distracting yourself.
#5 Move your body, preferably outdoors
When you're triggered by certain thoughts or your environment, your body tends to freeze. This is due to the classic flight, fight, or freeze response. Freezing is actually the most common autonomic response, and yet it's frequently forgotten. To combat this response, get moving. This reminds your body that you’re safe.
If you can, head outdoors and put your bare feet directly on the Earth. This type of grounding is called “earthing.” According to Dr. Klitz, earthing has been scientifically proven to:
- Reduce fatigue and increase energy
- Reduce chronic pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Help you recover faster from exercise
- Enhance and elevate mood
- Reduce blood pressure and hypertension
- Support heart health
- Improve sleep quality
In the process of moving, you'll loosen stiff joints, remind your body it's safe, and release nervous energy.
The rhythmic motion of walking is a great way to release pent-up energy or stress you may be feeling. And being in nature can help you feel more connected to the present moment. If possible, aim to get outside in the sun too for some restorative vitamin D.
Now that you know some grounding techniques, it's time to put them into practice. When you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself and try one of the techniques listed above. Experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you in different situations.
And most importantly, be patient with yourself. It takes time to learn how to ground yourself, but with practice, it will become easier and more automatic.
If you're looking for more grounding techniques or support in managing your hypersensitivity, we encourage you to reach out to a therapist or counselor who can help. Psychology Today helps you find local therapists. If you prefer to speak with someone online, we recommend TalkSpace or BetterHelp.
Touchy Feely does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this company is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your physical or mental health.