Touring artists’ and their crew are in a very unique situation where they’re constantly moving from one location to the next, from one show to the next, with various interviews and events to fill the time in between. This constant movement can make it extremely difficult to find your bearings and to ground yourself when the ground keep moving beneath you.
When I speak of “grounding”, I am referring to the feeling of your emotions and mental state being in the present. It is the feeling of being rooted and secure in reality. Grounding is usually spoken of when discussing anxiety and panic attacks; however, grounding tools can be useful with any mental illness or stressful situation. Throughout years of therapy, I have learned a variety of grounding tools to help pull me out of moments of intense anxiety, which most of them involve your current surroundings.
When your current surroundings change almost daily over the span of weeks or months, it can be difficult to feel secure with where you are. Although I have not toured, moving into college was very difficult for me. I went from my small hometown in Florida to sleeping in an empty dorm in a major city I didn’t know a couple days later. I woke up in the morning not knowing where I was. I looked out the window and saw a place that was foreign to me. For anyone, this drastic change in setting could throw you off; however, as someone with an anxiety disorder, it would cause me to momentarily lose my grip on reality. Knowing the basics of tour life, I’m sure many artists have experienced similar situations and feelings.
Over the years, I have consistently used two grounding methods that are simple and have been greatly effective for me. The first is one that you can find pretty easily on the internet and involves a rundown of your five senses. While in one place, find 5 objects that you can see, 4 objects that you can touch, 3 noises you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste. It is a simple method to remember but is involved enough to pull you focus away from anxiety and allow you to center yourself in your physical space.
The second one is a tool that I learned from my first long-time therapist and is a method that he learned from a therapist who helped him before he became one himself. I typically like to use this one before I go to sleep in an unfamiliar place since it is based on aligning yourself with you current location and situation, rather than your immediate surroundings. This tool is a basic list of solid facts about who you are, where you are, why you are there and an affirmation that you are secure and okay. For me, the list looks like this: my name, my birthday, my age, where I am from, the room or building that I am currently in, the city/town I am currently located in, my purpose for being in said city/town, and affirming that I am okay. Saying these facts outloud and placing your hands on a solid surface can help ease your nerves before falling asleep. This list can also be extended or narrowed down depending on what is most beneficial for you.
Grounding techniques look different for everyone based on their personality and situation, but are an essential part of everyone’s toolkit for dealing with emotional situations. Think about what “grounding” is to you, what techniques you might already use, and if there are different techniques that you may want to add to your current toolkit.