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  • mmillspsychology

Creating Calm with Grounding and Breathing Techniques

Grounding and breathing exercises are a powerful coping mechanism to use when we are struggling with stress and intense emotions. They help us tune into the safety of the present moment, fostering a soothing connection between our mind, body and the here and now.

When our nervous system is soothed, we can think and perceive things with greater clarity, without the lens of danger that distorts reality when we are overwhelmed.

There is a lot of variety in these exercises, and everyone will have their own preferences. What is catnip to one person may be nails on a blackboard to another. So I encourage you stick with it and to have a play around to see what fits for you.

  1. Self Managed Relaxation Audio:

Rationale: to assist with softening tense muscles, breaking thought patterns that increase muscle tension and reducing stress, which inhibits the release of the inflammatory hormone cortisol -

2. Self Directed Breathing and Grounding Techniques

Rationale: The exercises below are to centre yourself and connect with your environment. Practice them throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and spiralling into a rumination cycle which escalates distress.

  1. Deflate and unwind

    1. Take a seat or lie down somewhere safe and comfortable, where you won’t be interrupted

    2. Take a deep breath in, and hold it

    3. Release it as slowly as you can

    4. As you exhale, allow your body to deflate like a balloon, melting tension and stiffness

    5. Repeat and consciously allow your muscles to unwind and become heavier with each exhalation

  1. Take Ten Breaths

    1. Take ten slow, deep breaths (in 4 seconds, out 6 seconds). Focus on breathing out as slowly as possible until the lungs are completely empty—and then allow them to refill by themselves.

    2. Notice the sensations of your lungs emptying. Notice them refilling. Notice your rib cage rising and falling. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your shoulders.

    3. See if you can let your thoughts come and go as if they’re just passing cars, driving past outside your house.

    4. Expand your awareness: simultaneously notice your breathing and your body. Then look around the room and notice what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.

  1. Drop Anchor

    1. Plant your feet into the floor.

    2. Push them down—notice the floor beneath you, supporting you.

    3. Notice the muscle tension in your legs as you push your feet down.

    4. Notice your entire body—and the feeling of gravity flowing down through your head, spine, and legs into your feet.

    5. Now look around and notice what you can see and hear around you. Notice where you are and what you’re doing.

  1. Notice Five Things

    1. Pause for a moment

    2. Look around and notice five things that you can see.

    3. Listen carefully and notice five things that you can hear.

    4. Notice five things that you can feel in contact with your body (for example, your watch against your wrist, your trousers against your legs, the air on your face, your feet upon the floor, your back against the chair).

    5. Finally, do all of the above simultaneously

I hope these techniques offer you some relief in this stressful and uncertain time of COVID-19. Feel welcome to reach out on our contact us page if you want to work on cultivating your soothing system.

Well wishes to all of you

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