Today we’re going to start out with some basics – tools for what to do against the avalanche of bad memories inside your head. These are called grounding skills.
Now – for those of you who have been in treatment for a while and have your grounding skills down pat, this will be a review. Please feel welcome to jump in with comments, share what works for you, support others and learn from each other’s experiences. For those of you who are completely new to learning how to cope with this stuff, you’re in the right place, and today we’re going to take some time to cover the basics so everyone is on the same page.
Future posts might cover some stuff that’s a bit heavier – and when they do, I’ll start off the post by letting you know I’ll be digging a bit deeper, and by reminding you to use your grounding skills. By then, some computer whiz will teach me how to add a hyperlink into a blog post, so I can refer back here as a reminder to take care of yourself if you’re upset.
Grounding skills are things that we do to anchor ourselves into the present when a bad memory is trying to suck us back into the past. They are your first, most basic tool for managing your symptoms. Usually, grounding skills are activities that keep your mind focused on something in the here and now – they are meant to keep you… grounded.
There are lots of different things you can do to ground yourself: you can use your senses to be aware of where you are: for example, take the time to notice three things that you see, hear, smell, and touch to anchor yourself to the present. You can also remind yourself of today’s date, and of how long it’s been since that bad memory happened; this will help you realize that you are here NOW, and that bad memory is over. That’s how grounding works.
Keeping your hands busy is a good way of grounding yourself – it keeps you focused on the present. So, you might give some thought to taking up a hobby like woodworking, drawing, painting, carving, gardening, cooking – heck, learn to crochet. Whatever appeals to you, as long as it requires enough focus that your mind can’t wander into the past.
At this time of the year, the weather’s gorgeous out there – so another way to ground yourself is to go outside. Go out for a good long walk. Don’t rush – take your time. Find an apple tree or a cherry tree. Take a deep breath, and take in the smell of spring.
You know what else the nice weather means?
It’s gorgeous out there – so jump on your bike and go out for a ride. It’s a great way to ground yourself.
I’d love to have you share your thoughts, comments, and questions. If you do post a comment, please don’t give specific details of your trauma – these may be triggering to another reader. If you’d like to offer criticism, I’ll take it – I know I’m not perfect, and I’m always willing to learn. If you do offer criticism though, I’d really appreciate it if you could do so constructively (ie., no name-calling, please). Thanks…
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~ Dr. Dee Rajska, C. Psych.
*Fine print: Please feel free to share the link to this blog wherever you think it might be helpful! Reading this blog is a good start, but it’s no substitute for professional help. It takes a different kind of courage to admit to yourself that you’re struggling. PTSD is not a sign of failure – it’s a sign that you’ve been through a lot, and have tried to stay strong for too long. If you need help – you’re in some pretty great company. Reach out, and give yourself a chance to feel better.
**Really fine print: The content of Coming Back Home is copyrighted; please feel welcome to share the link, but do not copy and paste content. Unless otherwise noted, all original photography on Coming Back Home is the copyrighted property of Larry M. Jaipaul; please do not copy images without permission.
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