In many different situations when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or distracted by your thoughts and emotions, it is handy to know some simple techniques and exercises to quickly help you calm down. That’s where the so-called grounding exercises are invaluable.
They are used to help bring you back into the present moment and bring your awareness to what’s currently happening, to the here and now.
There are many types of grounding exercises, e.g., physical (deep breathing, putting hands in cold water…), mental (counting backward, describing a common task, playing memory games…), or soothing (playing with a pet, listening to music, listing positive or favorite things…). Keep in mind that one exercise might suit you more than another, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try various exercises till you find the one that works for you. If that one stops working, feel free to try a new one!
In the app TalkToPoppy, you can experience one of the common grounding techniques called “5-4-3-2-1.”
What do the numbers mean?
It is in fact quite simple. This technique focuses on your senses and the identification of various elements and objects around you, in order to calm your mind and thoughts.
You start by identifying 5 things you can see around you. Maybe it is a table, a chair, a bird or a tree, anything however big or small, or even just colors that you see.
In the next step, you focus on 4 things you can touch. Maybe this is your hair, hands, a chair, a phone, or something else. Whatever it may be, think about the four things you can touch with your hands or body, and try touching them.
Next are 3 things you hear. Maybe you can hear a car, a clock, some people talking, or some ambient sounds you may not normally tune into. Noises are all around us, and focusing on three things you can currently hear can help you get grounded in the present moment.
What follows are 2 things you can smell. Maybe it's a deodorant, some food, drink, or anything else near you. You can also pick some ordinary items and try smelling them.
The last one is focusing on 1 thing you can taste. E.g., what does the inside of your mouth taste like? Toothpaste, coffee, or your lunch? Focus your attention on the flavor.
There is also a bonus step: name one good thing about yourself. I'm sure there are many good things about you, but focusing on one good thing will do the trick for this exercise. It might be a recent accomplishment, it doesn't matter how big or small. The point is to find one thing to pat yourself on the back for. This might not be an easy task, but even a small accomplishment counts. Keep in mind that this is a bonus step, so there is no need to push yourself over limits.
Going through this exercise can improve your concentration, and calm your thoughts and emotions for a moment. Remember that as with any other skills, practice makes perfect, and you will become more efficient in using this technique the more you practice, even when you are calm at the moment. Then, when you are in need, you will already know what to do.
This 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is one of the tricks that Poppy knows, together with other relaxing exercises that are available in her relaxing hub. Try talking with her whenever your thoughts or emotions are making you feel down. She is here for you whenever you need to improve your mood!