person lying on bed with hands over face

8 Ways to de-stress RIGHT NOW

Depending on where you live, summer has arrived, which can come with mixed feelings. The start of warmer weather, longer days, and dinner outdoors can be enough to improve your mood, and get you out socializing. For some however, summertime means the kids are home from school and the hunt for activities is on, seasonal lay-offs have started, or maybe the amount of people out during the day causes anxiety.

No matter the time of year, here are a few helpful grounding exercises that may calm your nervous system, and bring a feeling of calm when you need it!

Walk barefoot on the ground (even better if it’s grassy!)

Body Awareness: Wiggle your fingers and toes, move your arms and legs, get back into your body4-7-8 breathing: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and breathe out for 8 (repeat)

Imagine that your thoughts are ‘leaves on a stream’ and watch them float until you can’t see them anymore (Harris, 2019)

Put your hands or (if you’re up for it), your face, into very cold water. Pay attention to the sensation that it brings - is it tolerable? Itchy? Tingly? Numbing? 

5-4-3-2-1: name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste

If you are eating, savour whatever is in front of you, notice the texture, taste and smell of your food

Get active, go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, dance, move your body and release some of that stress hormone!

One of the great things about these exercises is that you can do them (almost) anywhere, and no one would notice that you’re counting/breathing/moving any differently! Give any or all of these a try, get the kids involved or take a moment to yourself, and see how you feel!

More information about the Leaves on a Stream exercise: Harris, R. (2019). ACT made simple: An easy-to-read primer on acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

5-4-3-2-1 Audio Exercise: Audio Link

More body awareness grounding activities:

Katie Mastromattei

Katie Mastromattei

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