Ground Yourself When It’s Overwhelming

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Ground Yourself When It's Overwhelming

The world is a busy place with lots of distractions. This makes it very easy to feel overwhelmed on a regular basis. Once you feel overwhelmed it may not be easy to move yourself to a better space. 

However, learning to how to deal with overwhelm is a skill that you can learn and develop.

With enough practice, you can quickly get yourself back on track from any negative emotional state.

There are many strategies to ground yourself as a strategy to neutralize overwhelm. Here are several to consider.

  ~1 Hold something in your hand. If you're feeling overwhelmed, pick up an object. The more interesting the object, the better it will work for this exercise. Nearly anything will work: A pen, a flashlight, saltshaker, paper weight, a rock you picked up.....

  • Hold the object in your hand and focus on the texture. Avoid looking at the object. Just feel it in your hand.
  • Move the object around in your hand and imagine the shape of the object as you're feeling it. Try to form a mental picture based on what you're feeling.
  • Describe the texture and shape to yourself.

  ~2 Countdown 5-4-3-2-1. This is another technique that forces you to focus on your senses. But this time you're going to use all of them.

  • Look around your environment and describe something you see. You can do this aloud if you like. Describe its physical appearance in detail for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this until you have described five items.
  • Now, describe four things you feel. This can be an object in your vicinity. It can also be a physical sensation, such as the chair beneath you, the temperature of the air on your skin, or your itchy nose.
  • Next, describe three things you can hear. You might have to close your eyes and really concentrate, but you can always find at least three sounds in your environment if you try.
  • What are two things you can smell? Pick something up and smell it if necessary.
  • What does your mouth taste like right now? Have a drink if necessary.

  ~3 Call a trusted coach or mentor. One of the best ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed is to reach out for a balanced conversation.  You're looking for becoming more present and not focused on the overwhelm.  Pick a mentor you know is skilled as holding this space for you.

  ~4 Focus on your breath. Feel the air go in and out of your body. You can only think about one thing at a time. If your attention is on your breath, it can't be on whatever is making you feel overwhelmed.

  ~5 Distract yourself. If all else fails, distract yourself in a non-harmful way. Play a quick game on your phone. Read a few pages of a book. Watch a video of a squirrel snow skiing. Dance around the room. Do whatever it takes without harming yourself.  Avoid using food, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco though.

Ideally, you'll use these grounding techniques before your feeling of overwhelm is at a high level. Ground yourself as soon as you feel your emotions starting to head south. It's easier to stop a moving train while it's still moving slowly.

Practice these techniques and be patient. This is a real skill. Focusing your attention purposefully is a skill is well worth the time and energy to develop.