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  • Taylor Larsen

Basic Grounding Techniques



Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions. These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment. You can use grounding techniques to help create space from distressing feelings in nearly any situation.


To connect with the here and now, do something (or several things) that will bring all your attention to the present moment. Be sure to keep your eyes open while you're grounding yourself so you're aware of everything that's going on around you.


If you notice that you're slipping into a flashback or a dissociative state, try some of these grounding techniques.


Sight

  • Complete a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, or other puzzles.

  • Count all the pieces of furniture around you.

  • Play a distracting game on your tablet, computer, or smartphone.

  • Put on your favorite movie or TV show.

  • Read a book or magazine.

  • Take a mental inventory of everything around you, such as all the colors and patterns you see, the sounds you hear, and the scents you smell. Saying this out loud is helpful too.

  • Visualize amazing pictures, such as flowing waterfalls, peaceful ocean, divine light piercing walls of darkness, and natural beauty.

  • Notice the ambiance and/or mood of the room you’re in.

  • Name 5 things in a room that are all the same color.

  • Light a candle and watch and note the direction and colors of the flames.

Smell

  • ·Get some essential oils that remind you of good times (freshly cut grass, rain, clean laundry, or sugar cookies, for example) and smell one.

  • Light a scented candle or melt scented wax.

  • Sniff strong peppermint, which also has the benefit of having a soothing effect.

Sound

  • Call a loved one.

  • Put on some nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves crashing.

  • Read out loud, whether it's a favorite children's book, a blog post, or a novel.

  • Talk out loud about what you see and hear, or what you're thinking or doing.

  • Turn up the radio or blast your favorite song.

  • Say a soothing two-syllable word to provide your mind with something else to think about as you relax your body. This can be your special neutral word, or two sounds you like — something like win-dow, ap-ple — designed to anchor you back into you. Close your eyes. Allow your word to effortlessly bounce in your mind for a minute or less.

Taste

  • Bite into a lemon or lime.

  • Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth, noticing how it tastes and feels as you roll it around with your tongue.

  • Suck on a mint or chew peppermint or cinnamon gum.

  • Take a bite of pepper or some hot salsa.

  • Chew on ice and listen to the crunch.

  • Eat something and try to describe the taste yourself.

Touch

  • Cuddle and pet your dog or cat if you have one. Notice their breathing patterns and eye movements. Take note and be mindful of the color and texture of your pet's coat.

  • Drink a hot or cold beverage.

  • Grab an article of clothing, a blanket, or a towel and knead it in your hands or hold it to your cheek. Concentrate on what it feels like.

  • Hold an ice cube and let it melt in your hand.

  • Wrap a weighted blanket around you and focus on how it feels on your body.

  • Massage your temples.

  • Pop some bubble wrap.

  • Focus on your feet. Notice how your shoes feel against your feet. If barefoot, feel the floor’s texture and note how it feels.

  • Put your hands under running water.4

  • Rub your hand lightly over the carpet or a piece of furniture, noting the texture.

  • Take a hot or cool shower.

  • Place your hands out in front of you so that your arms are comfortable and place your hands so that your fingertips on the right hand are touching the same finger's tips on the left hand (you should feel a slight pressure of your fingertips touching). Then, close your eyes and focus on only your breathing and your fingertips, allowing your anxiety, triggered fear, or other thoughts to simply come and go. Continue to do this until you feel calm, can breathe easily, and no longer feel dissociation.

  • Choose an object to keep you in the present. This could truly be anything, like a photo, piece of jewelry, or any other small keepsake. Build an association between it and the present—every time you see it or touch it, remind yourself that you are in the moment. Then, when you need it, you can reach for it.

Other

  • Dance.

  • Go for a walk or run.

  • Send a letter or card to someone you care about.

  • Sit in another room or area for a change of scenery.

  • Stretch your arms, neck, and legs.

  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths.

  • Write in a journal about how you're feeling or keep a list of prompts handy that you can use to decide what to write about.

  • Follow your TIPPs. T- Temperature: change your body temperature using cold water or ice. I- Intense Exercise: walk quickly, climb the stairs, jump up and down, run on the spot, do 25 jumping jacks, or engage in another form of intense exercise. P- paced breathing: breathe in to the count of 5, hold, then breathe out to the count of 7. P- Paired Muscle Relaxation: tense your muscles when breathing in and relax them when breathing out.

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