Using senses – grounding part 2

Image courtesy of panuruangjan at
Image courtesy of panuruangjan at

My last blog post focussed on grounding and what it is.  This time I will  look at senses and how you might use them for grounding.

We are usually taught that there are five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

Grounding involves feeling more connected to the here-and-now, rather than on worries or concerns.  So anything that stimulates your senses enough to focus on and cut through anxiety might help.  This is why I suggested a variety of things for different senses in your cuddle baskets and comfort boxes.

However, anything harsh or unpleasant could cause discomfort rather than bodily connection.  You know yourself best and what is likely to cause you to reach out for more and what might make you withdraw.  Choose carefully based on your own experiences.


Here are some ideas if you struggle to think of anything:

Sight: an image in your favourite colours (or even one you can colour in yourself), a pretty piece of scenery, a toy kaleidoscope, a glittery object.

Hearing: your favourite music, birdsong, the sound of waves, running water, wind through the trees, a purring cat.

Smell: aroma oils, baking bread, your favourite perfume or scent.

Touch: soft jersey fabrics, a pet’s fur or skin, a cuddly toy, objects to ‘fiddle’ with (e.g. a physical puzzle such as a Rubik’s Cube).

Taste: mild spices (e.g. cinnamon), chocolate, fresh fruit, warm milk.  You could experiment with different types of taste – e.g. salty, sweet, umami, bitter, sour.


This isn’t the end, though!  You might have sensory difficulties or disabilities that make using some of these difficult or impossible.  You might also find that these examples don’t stimulate you very well.

Interestingly, it seems humans have more than just the five “traditional” senses!  You might like to explore ways to stimulate these as well:

Temperature sense: the ability to distinguish warmth or cold.

Kinesthetic sense/proprioception: the ability to know where parts of your body are relative to the others (particularly limbs) without looking (martial artists sometimes practice blindfolded to develop this sense).

Balance/acceleration: the ability to tell what way up you are and when your speed changes (close your eyes on a roller coaster!).

Organic sense: the sense of what is happening internally, such as hunger or thirst.  Do you listen to these signals?

Vibration: the ability to detect small changes in pressure.


What might work for you?

Cuddle baskets and comfort boxes

“Cuddle baskets” or “comfort boxes” are a way of managing days when you feel lower or in more pain than is usual for you.    You can put them together yourself, at home, over a period of time or as an afternoon’s project.

The idea is to gather together small things that bring you comfort and help manage your pain or low feelings, so you can get the box out on a difficult day and make use of them.  The things you choose will be personal to you, but I have included some examples and links to examples further down the page.

Putting together your box is best done in advance, while you feel good and motivated – this will mean it is easier for you to identify your “good things” and have the ability to gather them together.  It is also a good idea to try including things which do not require a lot of energy or time to set up, as that might make it difficult for you to enjoy them when you need them.

You may want to put your things in a plain shoebox, an attractive basket or even treat yourself to a nice wooden lockbox or similar – it’s up to you!

If you find it difficult to think of things to include off the top of your head, you could ask your friends or relatives to help – you might even be able to make up boxes together.  You could set reminders to take special note of things you enjoy while in the moment – if it strikes you that “hey, I really enjoy this!”, could you include what you are doing in your box?

Examples of things you might like to include in your box (try to include all your senses!):

  • Warm slippers
  • Colouring books and good-quality pencils
  • A sachet of soup powder
  • Bath products
  • A book
  • A bar of chocolate
  • A small craft kit (such as cross-stitch, or a felt animal kit)
  • Something with your favourite fragrance
  • Photographs of a cheerful event
  • A favourite CD

Below are some blogs from people who have made these boxes.  What’s going in yours?