There’s an awful lot going on in the world at the moment, as we’re bombarded with chaos and crises almost 24/7. Often the things causing us stress are outside of our control, which makes it especially important that we have methods for helping us stay resourceful when we are feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve been talking a lot lately with my clients about what kinds of methods they use for staying grounded, and I wanted to write some of them up here. Hopefully, you’ll find some of them useful and can add them to your own toolboxes!
Circle of Influence
My first tool for you is the circle of influence and circle of concern, which was developed by Steven Covey, a management theorist. The key to this technique is sorting through the things that are worrying you to work out which you can influence and which are beyond your control. These categories form your circles of influence and of concern. The aim is then to focus your energy on the things in your circle of influence – even if you can’t do anything about the things in your circle of concern, you can still reduce the number of things adding to your stress and the focus it gives you can help you to stay grounded.
Next are gratitude practices. This is very simple and there’s been a lot of research showing that it can be very beneficial if you’re feeling low or anxious. The idea is to reflect on the good things in your life and focus on your gratitude for them. So, each morning and evening, you think of three things in your life that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t matter if they’re small things or really major because the key is to connect with your feelings of gratitude and remind yourself that there are positives in your life, even in really tough times. Some people like to write their gratitude practice down which can be good to look back over, but so long as you’re engaging with the feeling of there being some good in your life and feeling glad for those things, it doesn’t matter so much exactly how you go about it.
The next two tips are grounding techniques that you might find really useful in moments of acute stress. Both aim to bring you out of your head and whatever you’re struggling with in that moment, so that your concerns feel less overwhelming.
First, we have a mindfulness technique which involves shifting your attention to your surroundings. So, you focus first on five things you can see, then four things that you can touch, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. Paying attention to your senses and surroundings occupies your neural pathways on things other than the feelings of stress.
The second grounding technique is to do with breathing. Often when we’re stressed and we go into fight or flight mode, we start breathing into our chest instead of our diaphragm. Breathing properly into your stomach and diaphragm activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for digestion and relaxation. So, gently place your hands on your stomach and make sure it moves out as you breathe in, then as you breathe out it should move in again. Like the technique above, this focus on your breathing also helps to draw your focus away from the things that are overwhelming you.
Remember to be gentle with yourselves in difficult times and to purposefully connect with people to support you and I hope you find these tools helpful! If you want to find out how the Lightning Process can help you stay grounded in life’s storms, contact us to arrange a chat.