What are some effective grounding techniques for depression?

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This blog lists out effective grounding techniques for depression.

We will also discuss what grounding techniques are and what depression is.

What are some effective grounding techniques for depression?

Here are some effective grounding techniques for depression:

Acknowledging five

This is a grounding technique for you to try for yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts and unhelpful feelings:

First you start by acknowledging FIVE things you see around you. Then, acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. Followed by acknowledging THREE things you hear. 

You then go on to acknowledge TWO things you can smell and finally ONE thing you can taste.

Mindful Walking.

This mindfulness exercise incorporates physical exercise as well. 

Take a walk outside or around your room and start by paying attention to the sensation of your feet in contact with the ground. 

Next, expand your awareness to the sounds and smells. 

Also, expand your vision to what you see. 

Next,  let go of other distractions and walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important. 

Square breathing

You start by taking a moment to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and so on until you feel grounded. 

You can also add another element to this exercise by tightening your muscles and releasing them while breathing.

Hands in water

For this grounding technique, you put your hands in a bucket or bowl of room temperature water and focus on the water’s temperature.

Next, you take notice of how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. 

Then you take notice of whether these sensations are different or the same.

For Thai exercises you can alternate between different water temperatures. Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. 

Touch items near you

For this technique, you pick up and touch an object next to you and take notice of the following things:

  • Weight
  • Hardness or softness
  • Temperature
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Size

Savour 

Similar to mindful eating, you engage with the food by taking small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy.

Pay attention to the food that you are holding, notice the feeling of it in your hands. Then notice the texture, the weight, the colour, and bring you attention to how it smells.

Finally, move on to eating, but do so slowly and with concentrated attention. As you chew your food, notice the taste and the texture of the food.

Breathing exercises

Engage in breathing exercises for you to ground yourself to the present by breathing with your diaphragm instead of your chest. 

 One way with which you can practice this type of breathing exercise include:

  • Sit up comfortably in a chair or lie back on a flat surface
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage so that you can feel your diaphragm. 
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose so your stomach moves out.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles. 
  • As you exhale, let your stomach muscles fall inward through your nose or your mouth.
  • Continue to take deep breaths in and out for five to ten minutes a day. 

Fully engage in something else 

This can include engaging in conversation with someone else, colouring., watching your favourite show, and simply playing with your pet. 

Seated grounding technique

To follow this grounding technique, a person should:

  • Have a seat and place your feet firmly on the ground.
  • State the date and time.
  • Take slow, deep breaths.
  • State what they can observe in their present environment.
  • Remind themselves that they are in a safe place right now.

Use an anchoring phrase

Use a phrase that you can use to anchor yourself. 

This can be something like:

“My name is X and I am 25 years old. Today is the 5th of June, 2022 and I am in my bedroom. It is 10 am in the morning and I am safe.”

You can add details that allow you to observe what is happening to you and the world around you until you feel better and calmer.

What are grounding techniques?

Grounding techniques are coping strategies that an individual can use to manage unhelpful feelings and negative intrusive thoughts related to anxiety, depression, and stress. 

These techniques help individuals to step back from these negative feelings and thoughts and allow them to focus on something more objective or neutral such as the world around them, sensations, and also focus on their breath. 

Focusing on the present moment by focusing on what is around them, what they feel, and sense can be a great way to deal with past regrets and future anxieties and in the case of depression, negative thoughts and feelings.

When it comes to depression, an individual deals with unhelpful emotions related to helplessness and worthlessness, as well as thoughts that are harsh on themselves, critical, and negative assumptions or irrational beliefs. 

These grounding techniques allow them to “take a break” or step away from these thoughts and feelings and instead help them to focus on the present, or reconnect them with their present world that is far removed from what their negative thoughts and feelings make them believe their life is like. 

Grounding techniques are everyday coping tools that can help an individual self-regulate their negative emotions, thoughts, and as a result cope and manage stress and anxiety.

These techniques help individuals ground or anchor themselves to the present instead of being swept away by their emotions and unhelpful thoughts. 

These techniques can be anything that allows you to bring yourself to the present and calm yourself down so that you are not in a constant state of destress. It helps to switch off the stress flight or fly responses and instead allow the body to calm down and relax by focusing on the present that has no imagined threat.

What is Depression according to the DSM- V?

Depression or clinically known as major depressive disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a  serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.

For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression. 

What is the DSM criteria for Depression diagnosis?

The Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed) DSM-V outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. 

The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. 

These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning. 

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 

These symptoms should also not be the result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

Conclusion

This blog listed out effective grounding techniques for depression.

We also discussed what grounding techniques are and what depression is.

Is grounding good for depression?

Grounding exercises are effective ways to cope with intrusive negative thoughts, thoughts of hopelessness, self criticisms etc- which can become overwhelming at times. 

T is also an  effective way to cope with symptoms of anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder

What are grounding techniques?

Grounding techniques are everyday coping tools that can help an individual self-regulate their negative emotions, thoughts, and as a result cope and manage stress and anxiety.

These techniques help individuals ground or anchor themselves to the present instead of being swept away by their emotions and unhelpful thoughts. 

These techniques can be anything that allows you to bring yourself to the present and calm yourself down so that you are not in a constant state of destress. It helps to switch off the stress flight or fly responses and instead allow the body to calm down and relax by focusing on the present that has no imagined threat.

How do you stay grounded when dissociating?

Some of the ways you can stay grounded when dissociating includes:

Breathing slowly and deeply while paying attention and listening to sounds around you.

You can also try walking barefoot while taking notice of the textures and sensations of the ground under your feet or wrapping yourself in a blanket and feeling it around you.

Another way is touching something or sniffing something with a strong smell.

What is mental grounding?

Mental grounding refers to everyday coping practises that help individuals ground or anchor themselves to the present instead of being swept away by their emotions and unhelpful thoughts. 

These techniques can be anything that allows you to bring yourself to the present and calm yourself down so that you are not in a constant state of destress. It helps to switch off the stress flight or fly responses and instead allow the body to calm down and relax by focusing on the present that has no imagined threat.

What is mindfulness grounding?

Grounding techniques are everyday coping tools that can help an individual self-regulate their negative emotions, thoughts, and as a result cope and manage stress and anxiety.

In mindfulness grounding  you are guiding your attention away from thoughts about the past, destabilising experiences, and guiding it towards present safety.

How can I naturally ground myself?

Take a walk outside or around your room and start by paying attention to the sensation of your feet in contact with the ground. 

Next, expand your awareness to the sounds and smells. 

Also, expand your vision to what you see. 

Next,  let go of other distractions and walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important. 

References

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

Deering. S. 8 Grounding Techniques for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed. Talkspace. Retrieved on 8th February 2022.

Caporuscio.J. Grounding techniques: Step-by-step guide and methods. Medicalnewstoday. Retrieved on 8th February 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/grounding-techniques

Raypole.C. 30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts. Healthline. Retrieved on 8th February 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#mental-techniques

Ackerman.C. 22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults (+ PDF’s). Positive psychology. 8th February 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/

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