From spending time in nature to doing an activity with your hands, there are plenty of grounding rituals for HSPs to do when they get overstimulated.
Being a highly sensitive person in today’s world can feel like you’re constantly facing stressors. Without even leaving your home, you are flooded with stimulating experiences you feel deep in your core, like loud noises, violent scenes on TV, societal tension, and other people’s emotions. Consistent exposure to these experiences — without managing their impact — can leave you feeling drained, prevent you from feeling like yourself, and deprive you of your health and happiness.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! Fortunately, there are simple actions you can take to combat the intensity of being an HSP in today’s world that allow you to maintain your well-being. One way to do this is by participating in grounding rituals that help bring balance back into your mind, body, and soul. Grounding rituals are simple exercises that encourage mindfulness and for you to focus on your physical environment when feelings of overstimulation are strong. Different strategies work for different people, so it’s important to be honest with yourself and find what works best for you individually. Here are some suggestions for grounding rituals to try when you’re feeling overstimulated.
12 Grounding Rituals for When You’re Feeling Overstimulated
1. Practice the “5-4-3-2-1” method, which will have you focus on your environment instead of your overstimulated mind.
It’s not uncommon to lose touch with your senses and what’s really going on in your environment when you’re feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed, two feelings HSPs are often familiar with. The “5-4-3-2-1” is a grounding technique that helps you focus on the environment around you. To practice it, simply identify to yourself:
- 5 things you see (anything in your view)
- 4 things you feel (like the sweater you’re wearing, floor beneath your feet, chair you’re sitting on, and so on)
- 3 things you hear (the ticking of a clock, cars driving by outside, or maybe even the sound of your heartbeat)
- 2 things you smell (if your environment isn’t particularly fragrant, just take two deep breaths)
- 1 thing you taste
Notice if you feel more rooted in your body after practicing the “5-4-3-2-1.”
2. Enjoy a warm, relaxing beverage, like herbal tea.
Drinking a warm beverage can help HSPs to feel grounded and less stimulated. Opt for something caffeine-free, like herbal tea, drink it slowly, and take deep breaths in between sips. Connect with your senses by noticing the aroma of the tea, the taste, and the warmth of the mug on your hands. Notice if your body relaxes. You can make this a regular evening ritual to help you unwind from any stimulating energy from the day — something necessary for HSPs’ health and happiness. Have fun trying different herbal teas or stick with your favorites!
3. Move your body, whether it’s practicing yoga or taking a walk.
Changing your physical state can help to release excess energy and serve as a way to manage stress that may come with being an HSP. Moving your body through exercising, practicing yoga, going for a walk, or even dancing around your living room are some healthy ways to direct increased energy levels caused by overstimulation. Exercise may tire you out, too, which can make it easier to relax afterwards and help you sleep better at night. (And since HSPs need more sleep than non-HSPs, this is important!) Research, too, shows that exercise helps reduce stress. Since moving your body increases endorphins and helps to boost mood, you may find yourself feeling not only more grounded, but also better emotionally!
4. Take a technology break (since technology is an easy way for HSPs to get overstimulated).
Put down the phone and step away from the laptop and your phone! The constant flood of information from social media and news apps, as well as the light from the screen, can be both overstimulating and draining at the same time. HSPs may benefit from regular technology breaks to maintain healthy energy levels. Try taking breaks from your screen(s) throughout your day to reduce stimulation. Set reminders for “tech breaks” to help yourself remember to do so. Also, try not to look at any screens about an hour before you go to bed to set yourself up for a relaxing and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
5. Engage in an aromatic ritual, like a diffuser with lavender essential oil.
It’s been said that scent can have a positive impact on mood, stress reduction, and self-confidence, areas HSPs may need support with when recovering from overstimulation. Select something with an aroma that is pleasing to you — like fresh herbs, essential oils (lavender is known to be calming), flowers, or freshly cooked foods — and take multiple deep breaths while inhaling the scent. Close your eyes and allow the aroma to flood your sense of smell. As an added plus, by breathing in an aroma, you will naturally be taking deep breaths, which helps to relax the body.
6. Spend time in nature, whether it’s at a local park or in your backyard.
Research has found that connecting with nature supports physiological changes and well-being. This is particularly beneficial for HSPs because nature may help them feel more centered and balanced, despite exposure to overstimulating situations. Some enjoy the practice of “earthing,” which involves having direct contact with the earth through means such as walking barefoot outside or sitting on the ground. Spending time at a local park or in your yard, walking outdoors, gardening, hiking, or going to a beach, river, or lake are also ways to make direct contact with nature. If you live in a city without easy access to the outdoors, try bringing nature to you by having a couple of indoor plants in your home. Plants, too, can provide you with many health benefits, from reducing stress to improving the quality of your indoor air.
7. Do an activity with your hands, like cooking or cleaning.
Doing something with your hands allows you to shift your focus to that activity and away from your overstimulated mind. This may help HSPs get grounded and be in the present moment. Plus, research shows that tending to or creating something with our hands enhances mental health and mood. If the activity isn’t a mentally demanding one, and is instead mindless and repetitive, it gives your mind a chance to rest and relax. That being said, choose something that brings you joy or something that doesn’t take much brain power. Some suggestions are drawing, painting, crocheting, cleaning, cooking, and baking.
8. Bring awareness to your body, whether you rub your palms together or stomp your feet.
Directing your focus on your physical body may support you in feeling rooted into yourself and environment (and minimize overstimulation). Taking 10 deep breaths, rubbing your palms together, wiggling your fingers and toes, and stomping your feet on the ground a couple of times are some ways to become aware of your body. Focus on any physical sensations that come up during these moments. This practice can support HSPs in connecting with their bodies, increasing feelings of safety and groundedness, and reducing overstimulation.
9. Tap on an acupressure point, such as between your eyebrows.
Acupressure is an ancient healing practice used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves using your fingertips to apply pressure or tap on specific points of your body to promote balance. Acupressure can support HSPs by reharmonizing any energy in the mind or body that becomes imbalanced by overstimulation. Here are some ways to practice acupressure:
- Place your thumb or index finger between your eyebrows and apply gentle pressure in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes.
- Locate the “K1” point, which is located on the sole of the foot roughly between the second and third toes just below the ball of the foot. Massage or tap on that point for several minutes.
- Use all five fingers to gently tap for a few moments on the top of your head. Identify this point by placing your thumbs on the uppermost parts of your ears and reach your middle fingers up to touch. Where they meet will be the crown of your head and your acupoint.
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10. Use a weighted blanket, which can help reduce stress and promote sleep.
Weighted blankets are heavier than your typical blanket and usually weigh between 4 to 30 pounds. The extra weight pushes your body downwards, helps ground it, and applies deep pressure touch to help your body relax. When you’re stressed or overstimulated, your heart may beat too quickly. The pressure from the weighted blanket activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate and supports feelings of calmness. This can help HSPs to feel soothed and rooted after overstimulation. Weighted blankets also help to decrease stress and increase quality of sleep, two important things for an HSP’s health and happiness!
11. Create an acoustic ritual with relaxing music.
Research shows that listening to music prior to a stressor helped the autonomic nervous system and psychological stress response recover faster. This can be particularly helpful for HSPs when they’re expecting to be in an unavoidable stressful or stimulating situation, such as a crowded event, tense meeting, or overwhelming social engagement. Listening to relaxing music prior to the situation can help HSPs rebalance themselves quicker and experience reduced stress levels once the event has ended. Some of my favorites include x, y, and z. Think of it like preventative medicine for the nervous system!
12. Practice a cleansing ritual in the shower/bath, like setting positive intentions.
It may seem simple, but bathing or showering in warm water helps the mind and body to relax. Strong relaxation practices are often necessary for HSPs to counterbalance feelings of overwhelm and overstimulation. The warm water can support an HSP’s well-being by boosting mood and balancing the circadian rhythm (which may improve sleep). Make your bathtime ceremonial by taking deep breaths, visualizing your happiest self, and setting the intention to release any energy you’ve absorbed that isn’t serving you (like X or Y) or set new positive intentions (such as X or Y). Plus, the time in the bath or shower typically allows an opportunity for peace and quiet, two things adored by highly sensitive people, like your very own HSP sanctuary!
As an HSP, you may not always be able to control the environments or situations that trigger you to feel overstimulated. But if you have a handful of grounding rituals to reach for when those feelings come up, you can support and empower yourself to quickly feel grounded, healthy, and at ease! And the more we can do this, the better, right?
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