What is Grounding?
Grounding techniques are strategies that can help a person manage their traumatic memories or strong emotions. The goal is to decrease the intensity of a body’s stress response and to allow a person to reduce negative thoughts or flashbacks. By focusing on the present moment, a person can detach from the pain of the past and lessen the anxiety of the unknown future. These techniques are often used by counselors or health providers to guide someone that has experienced trauma, but the exercises can be used by anyone that is interested in reaching a calmer state of mind.
Why do grounding techniques work?
Let’s talk a little bit about the SCIENCE behind how grounding works.
Our brains are fundamentally designed to help us survive.
You have probably heard about the body’s response to stress being FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE, right?
There are certain emergency response sections of our brain that automatically prompt our bodies to react to danger; that may include a POUNDING/RACING HEARTBEAT, TENSED MUSCLES, or FASTER BREATHING.
These reactions can be incredibly useful when we need the burst of adrenaline to help us handle stress!
Stress and Trauma
People who have experienced trauma have more difficulty with stress.
Even THOUGHTS about stressful situations can initiate the stress response in our body (even if the actual danger is no longer real).
These thoughts may include FLASHBACKS, NIGHTMARES, PAINFUL MEMORIES of the past or INTENSE ANXIETY about the future.
Grounding techniques help your body to be more relaxed and help re-focus your thoughts into the present moment.
Just like coping skills, grounding exercises are highly personal. It may take a little time and some practice to find the techniques that work best for you. Here are a few strategies to try: