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  • Writer's pictureMegan Furman, LPC, LCPC

Grounding Techniques for New Parents

Grounding is one category of useful strategies that I often suggest to clients for helping to manage stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and other mental health concerns that take you away from your body or the present moment.

 

When I introduce grounding strategies, I often describe how and why they can be useful and give a few specific techniques to try out. It’s not uncommon to be asked for a written version of my suggestions. I used to provide various supplemental resources that I’ve gathered from different sources across time. But sometimes that felt disjointed and messy, so I decided to pick and choose some favorites and put them all into one place.

 

Grounding techniques can help you feel centered, present, and anchored when you’re otherwise feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or in your head. These skills are used in many mindfulness-based therapy approaches.

 

The key is to engage with your world. Incorporate each of your 5 senses when possible. While many of these can feel relaxing, they don’t have to be relaxing in order to provide that sense of groundedness. The great thing about these techniques is that they take just moments of your day, but can be very effective tools for giving yourself a reset.

 

While this post is aimed at new parents, anyone can use these strategies. If you are a parent, be intentional about choosing whether to do these exercises alone or with your kiddo in tow. You can incorporate your baby into most of them, but you get to decide when to do so and when to have certain moments all to yourself.

 


Here are some of my favorite grounding techniques for new parents:


Temperature Change. Step outside to experience a cold burst in winter or a warm rush in summer. Notice how the shift in temperature feels on your skin; breathe deeply. Come back inside and observe the difference.


Hold an Object. Choose a small object to pick up and hold. Describe it. Consider texture, color, weight, smell, and dimensions. This could be a pen, an orange, a pacifier, or anything else in reach.


Hum or Sing a Song. Either on your own or along with your device. Tap along or dance around if you feel like it. If you're using this to counteract other sensory input like your baby's crying, focus more on the notes and lyrics than on the activation your brain and body feel from the sound of their crying.


Recite a Mantra. Find a phrase to repeat to yourself. Something that you like or that resonates. Or something that you want to believe but are struggling to. “I am enough,” “My baby is well cared for,” or “I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.”


Position Your Body. Notice what feels right in the way you’re standing, sitting, or lying. Adjust anything that feels uncomfortable or tense. You might not realize how tight your shoulders are or that there’s a lot of strain on one arm until you pay attention and intentionally relax.


Scent Sense. Hold something scented under your nose or dab some essential oils on your wrist. Even a pack of gum or an orange will do.


Points of Contact. Wherever you are, notice what points of your body are in contact with an object or another part of your body (or another’s body). Standing holding your kiddo, notice the firmness of the floor on your feet and squishiness of their diaper on your hip.


Categories. Name as many items as you can in a particular category. You could do movies, vegetables, animals, modes of transportation, baby gear brands… whatever strikes you.


Pet Your Pet. Make contact with your fur baby. If you don’t have one, stroke a blanket or anything with a distinctive texture.


Breath Awareness. Observe your breathing for a few moments. Where does your breath go when you breathe in and when you breathe out? Follow it into your nose and down into your belly, then back out.


Observe Outside. Take in the sights, sounds, sensations, and smells. Feel the sun on your face. Listen to the birds (or the cars). Smell the freshly cut grass (or the exhaust). You can also do this from a window: choose somewhere to look and fill in the other senses using your imagination.


Move Your Body. Especially if you’ve been still for a while. March, stretch, do a standing yoga pose. You may not be ready for jumping jacks if you’re newly postpartum, but find some kind of movement your body hasn’t experienced in a while.


Wash Your Hands. Try both warm and cold water. Lather up with scented soap, or better yet, use a salt scrub. Bonus points for following up with moisturizing lotion and a little hand massage for yourself. As with all of these activities, engage with your senses all along the way!




The content on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are in a mental health crisis, please call 988 or the Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-852-6262.

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