Learning grounding techniques and proper breathing can be a game-changer in our busy lives.
We live in a society that scrutinizes our every move. There’s extreme pressure on people to be perfect and lead meaningful lives. But there’s little regard for what the desires of the individual are and what a meaningful life means for them.
Most people are expected to follow a predetermined road: go to an elite school, graduate with honors, get a high-paying job and start a family. But not everyone wants to do that. Some people would be perfectly content with traveling and never starting a family. But these expectations are just too much, and they put pressure on everyone—coupled with the fact that humans are inherently insecure. As a result, you get someone who overthinks everything they do.
With how the world is, no one is safe from the dangers of overthinking. It makes you lie awake at night and question every decision you ever made. It can be so crippling that you could even start avoiding making decisions. Overthinking is a severe problem, yet people don’t want to talk about it.
Without having had a serious conversation about it, most people don’t know how to deal with it. Instead of being able to shut down these intrusive thoughts, they spiral. And this can cause various other issues and mental health problems. So, how can you avoid overthinking? And what are some grounding techniques that can prevent you from spiraling?
Why Do People Overthink?
Overthinking is what happens when you start ruminating about the past or future. If anyone ever told you that there’s no such thing as thinking too much, they told you a fib. Often, people are so scared and insecure that they think to the point of creating fake scenarios that have no chance of happening. While overthinking is not a medical term, the “thinking too much” idiom is used in psychological fields to describe serious mental health concerns.
Most, if not all, people overthink certain things at some point in their life. This habit, in itself, is not a mental health issue. But it’s often a symptom of mental health struggles. Worry, or overthinking, is a common symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Sometimes, it can even be a cause of anxiety. While you won’t develop an anxiety disorder because you overthink, you can become more anxious the more you worry. Overthinking also relates to depression and other mental health concerns.
Chronically stressed people will be more likely to worry and overthink. When you are wary of the outcome of your every decision, you will think about it repeatedly. This rumination doesn’t help you at all. On the contrary, it causes your stress to worsen. Even people who aren’t chronically stressed can stress themselves out by overthinking. You need to be aware that stress puts a strain on your body. Besides the mental damages, it can cause serious physical issues, even heart disease, if left untreated.
Fear and insecurities can also cause people to overthink. When you are afraid of the outcomes of your actions, you’ll tend to question every move you make. The same goes for insecurities. You’ll ruminate if you don’t have faith in yourself or think you can’t achieve something. This lack of confidence can even cause you to aim lower than you should. If, for example, you think you aren’t smart enough, you won’t apply to the best schools, even if you could get in.
Overthinking can be a severe impediment and can cause you suffering. Unfortunately, there isn’t a pill or a specific treatment you can get to cure it. In all honesty, overthinking is incurable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it at bay. And one of the best ways to do so is by using grounding techniques.
4 Grounding Techniques to Stop Overthinking
Grounding techniques can treat or alleviate mental health issues. You can do things to stabilize and bring yourself back to the present. They are especially effective as you can do them yourself, without any need for assistance. Grounding techniques can be quick fixes that help you solve the problem for a little while, or they can be exercises you engage in daily and take longer to complete. The latter is what will help you stop the habit of overthinking.
1. Breathing Exercises
If you struggle with worrying and overthinking, you can try some breathing techniques to help soothe you. You can use many types of breathing techniques, some more complicated and structured than others. You can use these exercises daily or even help you calm down when you start spiraling.
The most uncomplicated technique is breathing deeply through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. When you inhale, try counting slowly to five. Do the same when you exhale. At first, you might not be able to reach five. But, the more you repeat it, the calmer you’ll get. This method works best if you get into the most comfortable position possible.
Whether that’s lying, sitting, or standing up, that’s up to you and your circumstances. You can also try keeping your eyes closed, as it helps you focus on your breathing without any distractions. Do this for three to five minutes, and you’ll notice that your mind will start to clear. You can use other techniques, but this is the easiest, and it’s convenient, as you can do it anywhere.
2. The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
5-4-3-2-1 is probably the most common grounding technique psychologists recommend for many mental health struggles. It’s used so often because of how easy it is to do. Its effects alleviate feelings of fear, stress, anxiety, and more. But, most importantly, it helps clear your mind quickly.
This exercise is straightforward to learn and remember. As the name suggests, it is number-based. First, you need to identify five things you can see around you. Next, spot four things you can feel. Then, point out three things you can hear and two things you can smell. Lastly, identify one thing you can taste in your environment.
This exercise stimulates all your senses, which helps bring you back to the present. As you connect with the physical world, all the things going on in your head will fade.
3. Take a Walk – Stay Mindful of Your Breathing
Whenever a mental health issue is talked about, walking is suggested as a method of dealing with it. This suggestion is based on scientific evidence. Because of that, taking a walk is often recommended as a grounding technique.
Walking promotes the release of endorphins, which stimulates relaxation and improves your mood. But that’s not the only advantage. While walking, you can focus on your surroundings and become one with nature. That’s why many counselors recommend taking walks through parks or other green places. Without all the distractions of society, you can listen and take in your surroundings. This activity can help you loosen up and let go of negative thoughts. If you can’t go for a walk, any physical activity can do the trick. Doing yoga or going to the gym also helps your brain release endorphins. You might not be able to take in nature, but you’ll still escape the environment that caused you to overthink in the first place.
4. Meditation Grounding Techniques
Meditation has become increasingly popular in recent times, even in Western countries. People from Eastern nations have always practiced it, but recently, the other hemisphere adopted it. There are many reasons why people meditate. Some do it simply as a form of self-care. But it’s often recommended as part of the treatment for many mental health conditions.
Meditation is potentially the most holistic grounding technique you can engage in. There are many meditation techniques with different levels of difficulty and efficiency. To summarise, meditation is about mindfulness. No matter what method you use, the aim is to connect with your body and surroundings. The simplest way to do that is to find a quiet place and a comfortable position.
Then, it would help if you started taking in the signals your body is sending. What do you feel? Does something hurt? What does your body need? When you figure that out, you can start taking in your emotions. What do you think, and why do you feel like that? While taking in these signals, you also need to focus on your breathing, as if you were doing a breathing exercise. If your mind starts wandering, refocus your attention on your breath. Your mind will stop spiraling by the end of your session, and you will be more in tune with your body’s wants and needs.
Final Thoughts on Grounding Techniques to Stop Overthinking
Overthinking is something that everyone has to deal with at some point. Because of society’s pressure, you might worry about or question everything. While not a mental health condition, overthinking can either cause or be caused by such conditions. Generalized anxiety disorder, for example, can cause someone to overthink and worry about everything.
If you struggle with overthinking, it affects all areas of your life. Someone who overthinks will have trouble making decisions and even end up self-sabotaging. While there isn’t any medication that can cure your overthinking, you can always use grounding techniques. These techniques can get you out of your head and keep you present in the real world. In other words, they ground you when your mind starts spiraling. The benefit of these techniques is that you can cater them to fit your needs and possibilities.
You don’t need to have a perfect environment to do them. Most of these you can do anywhere and anytime you need to. You can use these methods to alleviate the issue at the moment, or you can do them daily as a long-term solution. Breathing techniques, the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, and meditation are some of the best exercises to help you stop overthinking. But even something as mundane as taking a walk and listening to your surroundings can do the trick.