For many years I worked in a family preservation program and provided in-home parenting and family support. Alleviating barriers such as transportation and need for childcare allowed parents to get the help they needed without added stress.
This was a community outreach service and a demanding role to be in. Over time I experienced the strain and drain of traffic congestion and the impact it can have on quality of life. The symptoms of stress were starting to show; fatigue, inability to focus and feeling anxious behind the wheel. I identified the signs and began utilizing Solution Focussed Therapy to start taking care of myself. I began practicing different coping strategies and mindfulness techniques to rejuvenate myself while on the road. Being stuck in traffic does not mean that we are stuck. Same is the case in many areas of our lives that we feel stuck in. We can choose how we connect with the ‘stuck’.
One of my favourite techniques, and one that I continue to use daily, is a mindfulness practice called Grounding. I use it while driving, waiting in line or walking the dog. I use it especially when I am caught up in a ‘busy mind’ or an overactive emotion and am needing to ground myself in order to create a state of calm.
It’s a simple, yet effective way to strengthen connection on the INside so that you can better connect on the OUTside.
Here’s how it works.
Utilizing the senses (sight, sound, touch) we tune in to what the senses are aware of, enabling us to turn down the volume of the mind chatter and/or the intensity of the emotion. Through regular practice, this can strengthen our ability to enable calm within the body, the mind and the world around us.
Begin by taking a deep breath in through the nose, down into the diaphragm, filling the lungs, feeling them expand. Hold the breath for a second and then exhale fully out the nose. Repeat for a few cycles.
Name 5 things you see and pause. 5 things you hear and pause. 5 things you feel (i.e., I feel my shirt on my back, hands on my lap)… and pause for one breath.
Next round name 4 things you see…hear…feel… and pause for a breath.
Then 3 things… and pause.
2 things… and pause.
And lastly one thing you…see, feel, hear.
Return to breath and check in with yourself. Take note of how you feel. Do you feel different from when you started? If so, how? By noticing these changes, however subtle, we strengthen connection and integration.
Remember to keep your eyes on the road!
I would love to hear how this mindfulness practice works for you and please share any tools you find are supportive to connection both internally and externally.