Dealing with a busy mind, racing thoughts, or rumination before bed can make it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Having an effective winddown routine can be a game-changer for helping quite a busy mind – but what do you do when you’re stuck in the moment with your thoughts? Fortunately, there are many effective tools and techniques you can use to quiet a busy mind.
What are Grounding Techniques?
Grounding techniques are coping strategies to help reconnect you with the present. If your racing mind causes you to spiral before sleep, it can cause anxiety to spike. Consequently, grounding techniques are a way to bring you back to your focus and calmness.
They’re commonly used as action plans for panic attacks, symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, unwanted looping thoughts, overwhelming emotional reactions, or anxiety. In all of these examples, including sleep stress, grounding yourself can separate the cause of your distress from your emotional reaction to it.
How do Grounding Techniques Work?
Grounding techniques rely on your senses to bringing your mind and body back to the present moment. This seemingly small action helps break unhelpful thought patterns and refocus your senses away from an anxious state. The best part? They are super easy to do, you don’t even have to leave the bed!
While some forms of grounding techniques rely on using touch, sound, or visual stimulation, there are many that you can do while lying in bed with your eyes closed. For example, you can use them any time you’re having a hard time getting back to sleep, shutting off your thoughts, or changing the channel on your mind when it’s set on replaying the same thing over and over.
GROUNDING TECHNIQUES FOR RELAXATION
This simple technique relies on your senses to revisit the present. You can do this easily from bed! To begin this grounding technique, look around you and:
Name three things you see
Name three things you hear
Lastly, move three of your body parts (such as your ankle, fingers, or arm)
The 5,4,3,2,1 method is an extremely popular technique for reducing anxiety. If you are out and about, use the world around you, if you are in bed, use your imagination and think of:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
COUNTING BACKWARDS FROM 200
There are various forms of grounding techniques that rely on counting. You can count backwards by 7’s, 2’s, or just normally. Also, you can do this one with your eyes closed while snuggled in bed to help you fall asleep faster.
Lists are a popular grounding technique that can help you overcome stressful hurdles, difficult thoughts, and get unstuck. Try these techniques:
Start listing random objects as they op in your head. For instance, All you have to do is list random objects as they pop into your head, such as “pencil, banana, car, eyelashes, iphone…” Keep going until you either fall asleep or feel relaxed with a quiet mind.
The Name Game
Pick a theme such as “cities” and go through the alphabet naming a city for each letter. If you get stuck, just skip that letter and make your way to Z. You can also skip the alphabet part and just pick a category that’s ultra-specific, such as “animals with puffy tails” and just start naming them. The point is to step out of unhelpful thought patterns and give your brain a little restart.
SAY A SONG
Pick a song you know most of the lyrics to and begin saying it in your mind without the accompanying tune.
FEEL IT OUT
Utilize your sense of touch by paying attention to the way things feel on your skin. You can consciously draw attention to sensations like how your blanket feels on your body, the pillow under your head, or how your hair is sitting on your head.
For many people, they find it helpful to activate touch by physically touching objects. Try holding a piece of blanket, or running your fingers across a textured surface. Whatever item you use, be sure to focus on how the object feels against your skin and describe the sensations in your head.
Check out Rested Health’s masterlist of relaxation techniques for even more ways to help you reduce stress, fall asleep faster, and improve your sleep quality if you enjoyed these grounding techniques!