By Ann Miller, Counselor Intern.
Part 1: Grounding Techniques
Sometimes Thanksgiving can feel like it’s kicking off the most stressful time of the year. Bills and budgets, long lines, awful traffic, family stressors, and a hundred other factors can leave us feeling overwhelmed and like we’re the worst version of ourselves.
Because the holidays can be stressful, we’re going to spend the next few weeks focusing on a few strategies to help you make it through the next few months and without feeling like you’ve gotten lost in the holidaze.
We know it’s busy this time of year and it probably feels like this isn’t the best time to start a new routine or to try to change up your daily routine.
With that in mind, we’ll start by focus on a few 15-second strategies that can help you feel more grounded and calm no matter what is happening around you.
No need to make giant changes, try these quick ideas the next time you’re waiting in line at the grocery store.
We’ve all been told to take a deep breath, but there’s some logic behind this. Our stress response impacts our breathing.
As we grow more stressed, our body gets ready for battle: our fight or flight response engages and our breathing grows shallow.
By sitting back and consciously taking a few deep breaths, we can signal to our nervous system that we’re not in danger, and improve our focus and concentration. Try it the next time you find yourself feeling irritated or agitated.
Another simple technique to ground yourself is to mindfully lift, then place one foot, then the other onto the floor. Next mindfully take a deep breath. Congratulations, you’re grounded yourself in the present moment!
When we feel stressed our anxiety increases and releases a stress hormone called cortisol. In a lot of ways, this is a good thing! Our bodies are doing their best to help us stay safe and protected. Sometimes our nervous system is a little too sensitive, though, and it can respond to someone cutting us off in traffic as if we’re being actively threatened (well, maybe we are!)
Gentle, soothing touch can signal to our nervous system we’re safe and we’re okay. When babies are born, we hold them close to ourselves, we rock them, we cuddle with them, and by doing this, we let them know that they’re safe and secure.
Turns out, babies aren’t the only ones who like to be comforted. In moments of stress, we can offer ourselves this same soothing touch that we might use to comfort a child. When you place a hand over your heart, wrap yourself in a hug, or engage in any other kind of physical self-soothing, you’re releasing a hormone called oxytocin which is associated with anxiety release.
Next time you’re feeling angry or stressed, experiment with placing a hand over your heart, on your cheek, on your belly, or giving yourself a hug.
Think of the 3 P’s: Pause, Present, Proceed.
As you transition between activities try stopping for a moment (pause), taking a deep breath or doing one of the other strategies from above (present), then continuing forward with your day (proceed).
Want more? Check out the free app Insight Timer.
Be on the lookout for part two and contact us for any questions!