Techniques for state management (3)

Visualisation Techniques

Some techniques combine breathing with visualisation, for example the “hot chocolate” technique:

  1. Take a moment to imagine that you are holding a hot cup of hot chocolate
  2. Hold the imaginary mug in your hands and imagine the warmth from the hot liquid warming the mug, feel it warm your body
  3. Begin to smell the imaginary chocolate smell
  4. Begin to imagine the sweet, pleasant taste of the liquid as you take sips from it
  5. Continue to “enjoy” your hot chocolate, until your breathing steadies and you have sufficient distracted your brain form feelings of stress.

or,  the “candle flame dance” technique:

  • If you can, light a tea light candle. If you cannot, imagine that you are staring at a lit candle
  • Concentrate on the flame, breathing in and out over it
  • Try to make the flame of the candle move, without blowing it out with your breath
  • Concentrate on the way the flame moves, watch carefully to control the way your breathing affects it
  • Eventually, your breathing should become slow and steady.
Grounding techniques

Grounding exercises can be a good way to stabilise strong emotions due to stress and anxiety. Grounding works by redirecting your attention away from what is causing stress and back to something more pleasurable and relaxing.

There are many ways to practice grounding, but the general idea is to connect back to the present moment by settling into your body through the five senses.

Below are eight ideas for grounding exercises – some will be more appropriate than others for the classroom or 1:1 situations in which challenging behaviour arises. you will need to think about which will be helpful to you in your professional context:


  1. Tense and release each muscle group in your body, one by one. Pay attention to the sensations that linger in your body afterwards.
  2. Look around the space where you are right now and find every object that is blue, every object that is yellow, every object that is silver, green, red and so on.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine a very, very far-away place. Imagine every detail of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations of travelling there in your mind.
  4. Turn your favourite music on loud and dance to the beat. Or turn your favourite music on softly and pay close attention to the sounds of each beat, instrument or vocalist.
  5. Open your kitchen cabinet and smell each spice one by one. Pay attention to any thoughts or memories that are conjured with each scent.
  6. Hug yourself tightly and rock yourself side to side gently and slowly, as if you were cradling a small child.
  7. Use your index finger as you would a pen and softly trace the letters of a calming word, such as “peaceful,” “safe” or “relax” into the palm of your opposite hand.
  8. Close your eyes and slowly scan neutral sensations throughout your body. Feel your feet grounded on the floor, feel the support of your seat below and behind you, feel the texture of your clothing on your skin, the temperature of the air around your face, the weight of your tongue in your mouth, the very tip of your head and the crevices between your toes.

How do you feel about visualisation and/or grouding? Would these techniques help you in professional practice – which, if any, appeal to you? If they aren’t likely to work, why? Make notes that you can refer back to to help produce your online portfolio evidence.