Making sure we stay grounded has a positive effect on our overall mental health and wellbeing, and is an important component of many spiritual practices.
It is also an important skill for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, as it can maximise the effectiveness of EMDR treatment.
What Does Being Grounded Mean?
Being grounded means to be physically and emotionally present in the current moment. Another way to look at this is to imagine your feet firmly on the ground so that you feel physically present, with your mind also connecting with the ‘here and now’.
To be mindful in body and mind of the present (rather than past) is to be grounded.
When ‘survival modes’ take over, most likely in stressful situations, the ground beneath can feel uncertain and it is easier to get lost in the past.
There are three survival modes that are triggered when there is a perceived threat:
- Fight – involving anger, agitation and aggression;
- Flight – involving panic and anxiety;
- Freeze – involving numbing/zoning out.
There are skills that can be learned that can help to safely ‘ground’ you in stressful times, and these skills can help maximise the effectiveness of EMDR (eye movement, desensitisation and reprocessing) treatment for difficult memories. It is likely that a moment from the past (a memory) is distressing, because at the time of the event a survival mode had taken over. With EMDR therapy, distressing memories are best processed while being grounded.
7 Ways to Stay Grounded
You might like to try the following strategies, to help you feel more grounded:
- Use the 333 method – connect with the present by naming three things you can see, three things you can hear, and three things you can smell.
- Turn on a loud sound, an alarm clock, high pitched music (teach anyone that you live with and trust, to help with this). [sound]
- Throw a ball with someone, or against a wall. [movement]
- Compare textures: feel the surface of the couch or chair, feel a key ring or clothing … [touch]
- Breathe from the diaphragm slowly, focusing on the breath in through your nostrils to a count of 1-2-3-4-5 and breathing outwards through your mouth, slowly, to a count of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
- Use anti-gravity muscles: stand and raise your arms above your head, move arms up and down (keep repeating the arm moment as if flapping wings). Or repeatedly rise up onto toes and back down again.
- Orientate and comfort yourself to the present date – look at a newspaper, look at a recent photo. Remind yourself that the distressing event is in the past.
If you would like some assistance in learning how to stay grounded, or are looking for relief from post traumatic stress disorder, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with me.
Author: Sarah Miller, B Sc Hons (Psych), M Sc, (Forensic Psych).
Brisbane Psychologist Sarah Miller has a special interest in trauma therapy, and is currently investigating the gender differences in trauma and harmful behaviours as part of her PhD. She is experienced in utilising a number of therapies – including EMDR – which are backed up by strong scientific support.
You can book Brisbane Psychologist Sarah Miller online, or call Vision Psychology Mt Gravatt on (07) 3088 5422.