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21 Grounding Techniques That Can Get You Back in the Moment

How do you treat trauma

Sometimes, what’s going-on in the immediate is so overwhelming and activating we find ourselves in another emotional or mental dimension. It’s scary, and as much as we want to get back in the moment, we just don’t know how. Enter grounding techniques. Let’s get to work…  

According to PTSD pro Matthew Tull, PhD, grounding is a specific coping strategy designed to, well, “ground” us, immediately establishing a (re)connection with the present moment.

Now, I know you can relate – PTSD, trauma, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolarity – any of them can take us from the moment to dimensions we want nothing to do with. To the max, that can include dissociative states such as derealization and depersonalization.


I’ve been there, and I know that when it happens the one and only thing you want to do is get back in the moment – NOW!

So how are we going to do that? Grounding techniques…

What Is Grounding?

According to PTSD pro Matthew Tull, PhD, grounding is a specific coping strategy designed to, well, “ground” us, immediately establishing a (re)connection with the present moment. Dr. Tull considers grounding a variant of mindfulness.

In addition to reestablishing our connection with the moment, Tull believes grounding reduces the likelihood of slipping into, say, a dissociative state or a flashback. Makes sense to me.

He emphasizes that for grounding to be effective the particular technique has to be sufficiently attention-grabbing. But maybe most important of all, the technique becomes easier to do and works faster and better with practice.

Let’s get to our list…

21 Grounding Techniques That Can Get You Back in the Moment

Do I have PTSD

As you review the list, please keep in mind that “warm and fuzzy” isn’t always the rule. This is about attention-grabbing, and something “cold and hard” may work better for you.

And notice the techniques may use all five senses, as well doing things that involve supporting the weight of the body.

Finally, to use some of the techniques, you’ll have to have some props readily available.

Here we go…

  1. Press your feet firmly into the ground, reminding yourself where you are
  2. Take an inventory of everything around you. Identify the colors, patterns, and styles you see. Count the pieces of furniture.
  3. Touch textures – fabrics, wall coverings, clothing
  4. Listen to or create music or sounds, especially feeling the vibration
  5. Hold on to an ice cube or rub it on your skin
  6. Sniff strong peppermint
  7. Cut your fingernails
  8. Bite into a lemon or lime
  9. Move your hands along the physical outline of your body
  10. Make your body active – change your position, cross your legs or arms, tap your feet, wiggle your fingers, jump up and down
  11. Quickly crank-up the volume on whatever you’re listening to
  12. Run your fingers through your hair, tugging on it every few passes
  13. Significantly change the temperature of your immediate surroundings
  14. Get your voice going – call-out your name, read something aloud
  15. Write or draw, even if it’s purposeless doodling
  16. Rub, handle, or play with a polished stone, soft or rough piece of cloth, beads, or chain
  17. Stretch, massaging specific muscles that you know need to loosen-up
  18. Put a piece of hard candy or something crunchy in your mouth and do some quick chomping
  19. Grab a pen and click away to your heart’s content
  20. Count something – floor or ceiling tiles, cars, people
  21. Make sustained low-pitched humming noises

So there you have it. Now, that’s only 21 “grounders.” Surely you know there are thousands, so find a handful you can rely upon.

That’ll Do It

Most anyone enduring PTSD, trauma, an anxiety disorder, depression, or bipolarity knows how scary it is when being in the moment is no longer a happening thing.

And, of course, escaping that otherworldly dimension – NOW! – is all that matters.

I encourage you to find grounding techniques that work well for you – and practice the heck of ’em. ‘Cause you just never know when they’ll come in handy…

The scoop on Dr. Matthew Tull.

Thanks to James Madison University Counseling Center for the info, as well as Heidi Hanson at The Art of Healing Trauma.

Hey, there are hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety-related articles available just for you. I’d like you to check-out the titles.