Grounding Skills

Grounding skills are things you can do that help in becoming present and staying present. It’s about being aware of your surroundings and being in the moment. For people that dissociate or experience flashbacks it can be really, really useful.

I used to keep a printed list stuck to the wall next t my bed. It meant that when I was feeling really overwhelmed I didn’t have to try to remember what to do. I no longer need that list, and can usually remember how to ground myself when feeling extremely overwhelmed or dissociated.

Here’s a list of the grounding skills I’ve found most helpful.

Five things you can see/feel/hear/smell
This is a mindfulness exercise that is useful for becoming more present. For me, this doesn’t always work. I need to be in my body enough in order to focus on the things around me.

Counting items
When I notice I’m beginning to dissociate a little this is a good one! I will count only red things, or blue things. Signs, cars, flowers, anything! Focussing on one colour only makes you focus and think more.

Counting backwards from 100 in multiples of 3
This is another one that makes you think which can help you to become more present. It takes quite a lot of effort to do this.

Moving your body
Moving my body helps to become more present. I think this works for me because when I become very dissociated my body will freeze. If I can start moving around I can become more present. Start with fingers and toes, just wriggling them. Then move on to arms and/or legs. Standing, walking, and more whole body movements can help.

Lavender Oil
The strong smell of lavender oil can, somehow, snap me out of a dissociated state quite rapidly. When I’m extremely dissociated someone holding the open bottle under my nose can be enough to make me much more present.

Ice Pack
A recent discovery – an ice pack under my feet! This works in a similar way to the lavender oil for me. It brings me back very quickly,  which is good but also unpleasant. I haven’t tried it when I’m extremely dissociated, but I think it would be useful then too.

Weighted Blanket
Quite a few years ago I bought a weighted blanket and it’s been amazingly helpful in managing flashbacks and dissociation. It’s not something everyone will have access to, or something that will work for everyone, but it’s something that helps ground us as well as ease anxiety.

Sensory Toys
Things like tangle toys, and fidget cubes have been fun and helpful for us. We can sit and focus on different textures, sensations, and movements, and use that to become more present and grounded.
(I’m in no way affiliated with these companies, I’m just sharing what I’ve found helpful.)

If you’ve got anything that works well for you, let me know, I’ll add it to the list!

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11 thoughts on “Grounding Skills

  1. Hi there. I’m glad to see you’ve posted this. I am currently working on making something like your grounding book. I know a lot about what I’m supposed to do, but like you said, you can’t always think of it in the moment. So having a physical representation is great. One suggestion I have for making yourself feel safe is to let yourself go inside and create a safe space. You can make it whatever you want and just practice going to that place rather than to a nastier place. It’s a great visualization technique. The more detailed the better.

    Thanks for following my blog. Take care.

    • I love my grounding book – it’s so useful! Also have a list next to my bed which helps.
      The safe space visualisation – I already use that. Well, the safe space is created, don’t necessarily use it so much.

  2. ICE!!! ice packs, ice cubes, ice cold water on my face….all of these have been a lifesaver for me. Your grounding book is a cool idea that I am going to add to my list of rescue remedies. Thanks.

    • Ice can be very useful and I’m glad it works for you too, but I’ve found that it doesn’t work all the time. It’s a matter of trying (or having external people try) a range of things with me each time. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

  3. Another one – is to feel the weight of your legs on the chair – feel your legs, feel the chair – concentrate on your body’s contact with the surface – it takes a great deal of practice for this one – over time it gets easier.

  4. opps, i should mention – using this technique is to bring you back into your body – it is a “mindfulness” technique – so if you have gone out and want to come back in – this one will do it.

    lol, that sounds so strange doesn’t it? only someone that disassociates would understand what it is that i am saying.

    i happened on your blog by accident – i was looking for weigthed blankets – i was searching to see if anyone had ever used them for PTSD.

    a company that i contacted said that veterans with PTSD had used them successfully – they look kinda “pricey” – but i may try it to see if it helps with sleep.

    • Thanks. I hope they’ll be useful for the lady you know with DID. Grounding skills are tricky because the same skills don’t work for everyone. It’s a pick and choose, mix and match type thing.

  5. Thanks for this. I really struggle about how to get grounded and talked with me counselor about it because a lot of the time when I get triggered, I forget all about grounding techniques. My counselor recommended lavendar yesterday and I tried it today and it worked!

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