Grounding is the first step in healing from trauma, we need to have tools to regulate our nervous system so we can tolerate processing our trauma.
Choose What Works for You
There are a million ways to ground yourself and these are just a few I've selected. When clients come into my office the FIRST thing we work on is identifying skills that work for them.
Practice Makes Perfect
The key thing about grounding skills is that we need to practice them often, and when were not stressed to get the hang of them. When our brains are overwhelmed by anxiety or trauma symptoms it can make it hard to remember our skills. Practicing makes them second-nature.
Get Back to Basics
As humans we can have a tendency to over-complicate things. Most grounding skills are relatively simple. When in doubt focusing on your 5 senses is a great way to reground.
Read on to learn more about these skills!
1. Start with Your Senses
Reconnecting with our senses can be a great way to reconnect with our body and the present moment. I like to teach a skill called 5-4-3-2-1, here's how it goes:
Name 5 things you can see
Name 4 things you can touch and touch them
Name 3 things you can hear
Name 2 things you can smell
Name 1 thing you can taste
Here you can be as creative as you like, some people like to carry essential oils on them for grounding or fidgets, whatever works for you.
2. Pick a Color
This one is very simple. Pick a color, any color and point out all the places you see it. You can get a particular as you want ex: baby blue or teal.
3. Ask Yourself a Silly Question
When our brain is hijacked by stress and trauma we're unable to think clearly parts of our brain "go offline" and blood flow is sent to our limbic system to prepare us for a threat. Asking yourself a question like "how much gas do I have in my car?" or "when was the last time I went to the dentist?" can actually help to shift bloodflow to help parts of your brain come back online.
4. Describe an Object You See
This is a variation of a mindfulness exercise in which you pick an object and describe it to yourself, the more detail the better. I like to think of it like this "if someone had never seen x object, how would I describe it to them?"
5. Move Your Body
Physical movement can be a fantastic way to get back in touch with your body. You can do this by stretching from side to side or rolling your shoulder up and back. Notice your body as you do this. How would you describe the sensation? Where in your body do you notice it?
6. Hug Someone You Trust
Physical touch can be a great way to regulate our nervous systems, the key is to do it with a person or animal you feel at ease around. Skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin helping to calm the nervous system while your nervous system begins to sync with their calmer nervous system.