Grounding is a technique that I use with my clients who are experiencing anxiety and/or post traumatic stress. I thought, in light of the explosions last Monday at the marathon, I would pass some of that information along.
Grounding is an excellent technique to help keep us in the present instead of being triggered back into the trauma or anxious moment. It helps us to be in the here-and-now instead of reliving the moments that are overwhelming. Grounding helps us engage with our senses to keep us in our safe and present moments. Here’s how to do this technique:
- Start by taking a few deep breaths.
- Remind yourself where you are and that you are safe: “I’m in (list location) and I’m fine and safe” or something like that.
- Engage your senses! For example: List five things that you see around the room and explain them in detail. Involve your sense of smell and keep a calming lotion with positive memories in your purse or car so that you can use it when you feel yourself becoming anxious or getting triggered. Engage your sense of sound by creating a calming and relaxing playlist to pull out in moments where you start to relive the past. This helps to keep you in your present experiences, and not allow your brain to go down the “trauma trigger pathway” that has been created.
As with most things in life, things often don’t work really well the first time we try them (think writing our names, riding a bike, driving a car, tying our shoes, etc…). This technique can be a great one for your coping toolbox, but you’ll need to practice practice practice in order for it to work well!
As a side note- this technique is also great if you’re getting frustrated in a car jam, bored during a meeting, or can’t sleep at night. All around, it works to relax!
Now it’s your turn to share! Have you ever used any grounding techniques before? How could you see yourself using it in the future?
*This post is not meant to take the place of a doctor or mental health professional. If you’ve experiencing depression, anxiety (or PTSD), lasting grief, or suicidal thinking, please contact your doctor or a mental health professional.