Grounding, Self-Soothing, Calming Techniques

Reading is grounding

When people go through tough times, we often tend to re-live them without wanting to—to feel and behave as though the event is occurring in the present, whether it is happening now or occurred years ago. Trauma tends to hijack the brain. When you want to talk to someone about an event, to process it, it is helpful to be able to feel calm enough first.
This is often referred to as grounding, or self-soothing. Children often learn fairly early on what will help them. You have no doubt seen children tuning out an unpleasant event. Or you’ve been that child. Sometimes we forget that skills, or perhaps we never learned it in the first place.
When we are calmer, more centered, more grounded, we are far more able to attend to whatever needs done in the present. And we are better able to process disturbing events.
Successful grounding techniques vary from person to person. Essentially, it boils down to whatever helps you to feel calm in the present moment,. I have a few pointers:
First, breathe. Deeply. This is essential to any form of calming.
Next, remember that you can utilize any of your senses in this endeavor. Even taste. Some people are centered by popping a peppermint and sucking on it. Others respond better to smells: A favorite cologne, fresh flowers, an essential oil such as lavender. (Lilac is a favorite scent of mine; it reminds me of my grandmother.) Sound is a good sense to utilize: Some listen to music, others use guided imageries (some of which can be found on YouTube.). Some people become grounded by what they see: Maybe a favorite picture, or the snow outside your window, or a loved one’s face. Touch can be extremely calming: Hugs from loved ones, or maybe the feel of a familiar blanket. (Remember how many kids love their blankie?) Some people keep cotton balls in their pocket so they can palm them.
Then there are physical poses; yoga is a wonderful grounding technique. I especially like the Child’s Pose, where the forehead touches the floor. Just sitting in a chair, feet on the ground, paying close attention to your surroundings. Feet should be on the ground, energy envisioned as moving head to feet instead of the reverse.
Some people force themselves to concentrate, making lists, working puzzles, doing serious reading…
With a little experimentation and a little practice, you can learn to be more comfortable in your own skin even when life seems intent on preventing that.

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