There are occasions when emotional pain can feel so overwhelming that it may be helpful to be able to detach from your feelings and stay safe. In particular, if you have suffered trauma either in the past or recently, you may find yourself struggling with intrusive and disturbing memories of what happened, either feeling overwhelmed with emotions, or perhaps feeling numb and disconnected. There are certain techniques called ‘Grounding’ which can help you regain a sense of safety and help you tolerate the emotions. The strategies work by distracting your attention to what is going on externally around you, focussing you on the here and now. The techniques can be a useful support alongside seeking professional counselling and/or hypnotherapy to help you deal with the underlying issues.
Grounding can be done anywhere at any time and it helps you stay in touch with the present, and not focus on the past or the future. It is an active strategy and can help with extreme negative feelings. Here are some grounding strategies which may be of help:
- Look around your surroundings and focus on the detail around you. For example, observe to yourself, “The walls are cream; there are 4 green chairs etc….” “I am on the train; I am looking out of the windows and I can see gardens; I am on the Bakerloo line and the next station is……”
- Find something around you that you can see and which appeals to you. Ask yourself what you like about it; what texture it is; what size it is; what shape it is; what colour it is.
- Say a safety statement such as: “My name is ………….; I am safe now. I am in the present, not the past. The date today is….. and I am standing in the supermarket/office/street etc………”
- Focus on your breathing. Imagine as you breathe in a balloon inflating in your stomach, and as you breathe out, imagine the balloon deflating.
- Play a categories game with yourself. For example, try to think of songs, animals, tv shows, countries that begin with A, B, C etc.
- Eat something and describe the flavours to yourself in detail
- Describe an everyday activity in detail to yourself. For example, a meal that you cook (“First I peel the onion and then slice it; then I peel some garlic; I fry the onion and garlic and then….etc”)
- Dig your heels into the ground and feel yourself connected to the ground, or stamp your feet and notice the power in your legs as you do.
One or more of the techniques may suit you better than others and it is important to go with what works for you. It can be useful to practise the technique(s) regularly, and you do not need to wait until you are feeling in crisis to do this. The more frequently you can use the strategy when you are not in crisis, the more familiar you will be with it for the times when you feel overwhelmed.
If you are struggling with emotional difficulties and wish to explore the possibility of counselling and/or hypnotherapy, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07936 556314 to arrange an initial session.