Coping with trauma: 10 Trauma grounding techniques

I side stepped in my trauma series blog posts to talk about the importance of self-compassion and how to build self-compassion. I will wrap up my trauma series by sharing how to cope with trauma with trauma grounding techniques.


Trauma can be triggered by people, places, media, situations, sounds, smells, thoughts, and feelings. I talked more about triggers here. When a trauma trigger happens, it is important to have tools on hand to help regulate and ground yourself when a trigger occurs.

Why grounding techniques are important.

Grounding techniques are also useful if you experience trauma flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or depression. Flashbacks, depression, and most nightmares send you into the past whereas anxiety sends you into the future. All leave you absent from the present and dysregulated. Grounding techniques are designed to regulate your emotions and bring you back into the present moment. Medical News Today shares more on why grounding techniques work.

Grounding techniques for trauma:

Activating your senses is trauma grounding techniques.
  • Play a game by identifying all the objects in the room that are red, then blue, green, and so on. This brings you back into present moment awareness.
  • Activate your senses. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This brings you into the present moment and takes it one step further by engaging your senses with your environment.
  • Place your hands and feet in cold water. This is a great grounding technique as you focus on the cool water over your skin and notice how your hands and feet feel.
  • Call a close friend or family member. Talking about it is healing. I wouldn’t have a job if this wasn’t true! Call someone you trust and let them know what is going on.
  • Do yoga. Yoga is great for recentering mind and body into the present moment. Is it highly recommended for trauma survivors. 
  • Walk barefoot in nature. Reconnect with the earth. Feel the ground beneath your toes, breathe in the fresh air, recognize the beauty around you.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing. Also known as belly breathing. We breathe from our chest when we are in fight or flight mode. Slow and rhythmic belly breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system and turn off fight or flight mode. Inhale for 7 counts and exhale for 10 counts. It is the exhalation that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so make sure you are exhaling slowly. Don’t hold your breath.
  • Listen to music. Be intentional with listening to the words and sing out loud if you can. Singing out loud forces you out if your thoughts.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Start with the top of your head and work down to your toes. Tighten one muscle group at a time, hold it for five seconds and then release. Exhale as you relax your muscles. We store a ton of stress in our body causing problems with muscle tension. 
  • Smell a relaxing scent. Smelling your favorite scent can be a very quick and easy way to reground you in the present moment. It is also a very easy tool for on the go as you can carry a small essential oil bottle with you to use whenever you need.
  • Make a gratitude list. Listing what you are grateful for is a great grounding technique when you are flooded with negativity. It is tough to have negative thoughts when you are focused on all the positives in your life!

This is not an all-inclusive list of grounding techniques, but it is a great list to get you started. You can certainly try other things and find what works best for you.