Grounding – techniques for everyday

In our field of work, we speak a lot about “grounding”. Do you guys know what that is? I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Grounding is what we use, to bring somebody back to the present moment, to reality, to reassure them they are in a safe place, out of harms reach. Grounding is theoretically used most often with patients diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (or multiple personality disorder in simple terms). However, many do not realise the benefit in using these same techniques when there is a diagnosis of anxiety or depression.

The 5-4-3-2-1 approach is used by many, and there are actually quite a few different versions that are used for different circumstances. The grounding technique I am currently talking about, engages the five senses. Their purpose is to get you out of your own head and stop flooding thoughts. It’s a common practice taught in cognitive behavioural therapy classes.

5 – find 5 things around you that you can see

4 – find 4 things that you can touch

3 – acknowledge 3 things that you can hear

2 – find two things you can smell

1 – find one thing you can taste

I sometimes make grounding boxes for my patients with every day objects I’ve found around the ward. For example, I’ve put tissues with essential oils on them and coffee beans to smell. I’ve taped two medication cups together and put staples inside so they can shake them for something to hear. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant – just something that allows your minds focus to shift, even for a split second.

Asking for help, needing to talk, needing time out for yourself or taking medication does not make you weak. Depression, panic attacks, crying, bad days are not a sign of weakness. They’re signs that you’ve tried to stay too strong for too long.

“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They both shine when it’s their time”.


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