When it comes to supporting your teenager’s mental health, grounding skills are a powerful tool. In Lutherwood’s Mental Health programs, teenagers and caregivers explore grounding skills to help them find calm when they experience anxiety. Anyone can use grounding skills with the right amount of practice and knowledge, so let's take a closer look at what grounding skills are and how you can practice them whenever you need to find calm.
What are grounding skills?
Grounding skills are focused on mindfulness and can be classified as any activity that brings you out of your thoughts and into the present moment. Unlike general mindfulness activities that could include hyper-focusing on a specific activity – like colouring or exercising – grounding skills are intentionally designed to focus on body sensations and noticing what is around you.
How can grounding skills help?
When you experience anxiety, your thoughts can start to take over, and often they start to feel overwhelming. These intrusive thoughts can impact how we feel and how we act in anxious situations. Grounding skills are designed to bring you into the present moment and stop your brain from throwing piles of unhelpful thoughts at you.
Let's explore 2 simple grounding skills you can try right now.
1. Label out loud 10 things you can see
This one can seem silly when you first try it because all you have to do is verbalize what you see directly around you with as much or as little detail as you would like! For example, you say out loud what you see in a room such as maybe a: Chair. Heater. Skateboard. Red blanket. Cartoon globe. White stand-up fan. That is all there is to it! You can do this in your head, but it can be more effective to use your voice out loud. It can take you out of your thoughts, hear what you are saying, and be in the present more by getting more senses involved.
For Parents: Get your teen involved by racing to see who can name ten objects first or play it “I Spy” style and have them look around to try and find the objects that you see!
2. Find one of each color of the rainbow
Look around the room or space you're in and try to find objects that match the colors of the rainbow. Start with red, then find something orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple. Take a look outside too and see if you can spot objects in those colors. This activity encourages you to discover new colors and objects in your surroundings that you might not usually pay attention to. You can make it more exciting by finding multiple objects of each color or focusing on specific categories like cars or flowers.
For Parents: Ask your teen to notice the different shades of green in the trees, grass, and weeds outside or how the sunlight creates different shades on each object. Try and find one new thing in your surroundings that you have not noticed before.
Test these grounding skills out and see which are best for you. Just like working on mindfulness, these tools are a skill that will get better with practice. You can also make games out of these strategies and use them in creative ways as you practice them more.
As you use these grounding skills, keep in mind that it’s normal to still have intrusive thoughts while you practice them. When this happens, simply acknowledge the thoughts, let them pass by, and refocus on what we were previously doing. Whenever you work on these skills, you will get a little bit better each time.
For more grounding skills that you can try today, download our printable resource here.
If you think your teen is experiencing anxiety and needs professional help, contact Front Door.
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