During times of high emotional distress, it is important to be able to get out of your head; specifically, to get some respite from the thoughts that continue to fuel our intense feelings. There are many ways to do this, but one technique is called grounding.
Grounding is basically bringing your awareness to the present moment, to your surroundings and physical existence. Simply notice and observe what is happening around you. Identify a few sensory things: what am I seeing, hearing, and touching right now? Is there anything I can smell or taste? What do I notice physically going on in my body?
The task is shift your focus. Observe the details in your surroundings: colors in a painting, scratches on a piece of furniture or texture of a ceiling tile. Listen for sounds you didn’t hear before. Feel the floor underneath your feet and the clothes on your body. If your emotional thoughts interrupt, just gently redirect yourself back to the external.
Practice is important in grounding. Try it when things are calm and emotionally neutral. Get a sense of what it is and how it feels when you do it. Then, when an emotionally charged situation occurs, you’ll be more prepared to put it to use. And you’ll be surprised at how it can reduce intense emotions.