Monday, April 26, 2010

Grounding Techniques


In the years following being sexually abused, many times I experienced flashbacks, panic attacks, and dissociation. I now have many tools that I use to get myself grounded back in reality when this happens. I thought that I would share some of those with you:)

Flashbacks are memories of past traumas. They may take the form of pictures, sounds, smells, body sensations, feelings or the lack of them (numbness). Many times there is no actual visual or auditory memory. One may have the sense of panic, being trapped, feeling powerless with no memory stimulating it. These experiences can also happen in dreams.

Grounding Techniques

  • Tell yourself that you are having a flashback
  • Remind yourself that the worst is over. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are memories of the past. The actual event took place long ago, and you survived.
  • Breathe. When we get scared we stop normal breathing. As a result, our body begins to panic from the lack of oxygen. Lack of oxygen in itself causes a great deal of panic feelings: pounding in the head, tightness, sweating, feeling faint, shakiness, dizziness. When we breathe deeply enough, a lot of the panic feelings can decrease.
  • Reorient to the present. Begin to use your five senses in the present. Look around and see the colors in the room, the shapes of things, the people near, etc. Listen to the sounds around you: your breathing, traffic, birds, people, cars, etc. Feel your body and what is touching it: your clothes, your own arms and hands, the chair or floor supporting you.
  • Sometimes getting ice, or submerging your hands in cold water will help to shock your body back to the present.
  • Speak to yourself as the child you were if your trauma happened as a child, and reassure him/her. It is very healing to get your adult in the now, that you can get out if you need to, that it is OK to feel the feelings of long ago without reprisal. The child needs to know that it is safe to experience the feelings/sensations and let go of the past.

These exercises take some practice, and they won't always work, but they have helped me to feel like I have some control over the memories instead of the memories controlling me.

Now, give your inner child a hug, and have a great week!


Ann said...

That's great advice. I love how you ended your post, so cute. Have a great week yourself.

Wanda's Wings said...

These are great. Thanks for sharing!

clean and crazy said...

that is awesome, however my attacks are quite different they happen like triggers, and then i go into defense mode with my significant other. and then i look at him like he is an enemy and it takes a long time for me to remember he is not my enemy. but i am working on it, so good to hear you are doing well

Clueless said...

Great post!! I also, at home, use a pillow that I only have in the present to help me to touch ground. For me, flashbacks were the toughest to deal with, but now the don't happen anywhere close then they used to. From throughout the day that were quite distressing and significantly interfered with my daily life to just a few short times per week that are almost unnoticed.