Disassociating and grounding techniques

This is a place to discuss grounding techniques and self-care strategies.

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Adelle
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Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Adelle » Sun Jan 31, 2021 9:32 am

After working through some older memories that have resurfaced, I'm noticing now more than ever how I tend to dissociate myself with other thoughts when a difficult memory or feeling comes up. I understand that this is a completely normal response, particularly for trauma abuse survivors as well, but I'm wondering what does everyone else here do to ground themselves the minute you find yourself dissociating?
Last edited by Serenity on Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed MT to NT as no triggering detail included

Chessgirl
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Chessgirl » Sun Jan 31, 2021 3:17 pm

I’m interested to know too. I was trying really hard to stop myself which was causing migraines so I started just going with it. I do carry lavender around with me and I’ll smell that which is a gentle way to stop myself. Holding an ice cube could help too
Chessgirl

Adelle
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Adelle » Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:32 pm

Ooo, what about ice in particular helps you Chessgirl?

Chessgirl
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Chessgirl » Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:37 pm

To be honest I have not tried ice myself lol but I’ve heard from other people it works. My therapist has told me to try this a bunch.
Chessgirl

Adelle
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Adelle » Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:47 pm

Oh! Haha. My fault for assuming you use ice.

Hmm, you know, I reckon I could start carrying something tiny around with me too. I could touch it as soon as I catch myself from dissociating. Thanks Chessgirl!

Chessgirl
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Chessgirl » Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:28 pm

Yeah! I have a little lavender plant outside. Every time I leave the house I grab a few sprigs!
Chessgirl

Adelle
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Adelle » Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:45 pm

Ooo, sounds lovely!

First thing that comes to my mind is this little crystal rock I have. Figure I could start using that!

Chessgirl
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by Chessgirl » Sun Jan 31, 2021 10:25 pm

I like that idea! :)
Chessgirl

dancingfish
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by dancingfish » Mon Feb 01, 2021 11:20 am

Good question, Adelle! :) I've found there where a few aspects to this that I've uncovered so far, which may or may not be useful for you to ponder. :)

First there was dealing with unpleasant memories in a new way - previously I'd just mentally walled up my mind with blankness where they were. Over time I've learnt to not apply this blankness, but to be able to see the memory but not relive it. Developing a greater sense of safety had to happen for this first, though.

So safety, focussing on feeling safe and things that make me feel safe is important. (That's allowing even the possibility of processing traumatic recollections in a different way. That processing mostly happened in therapy sessions, as I just couldn't do it safely for myself outside of those for years. Having a safe, grounding person (counsellor) nearby was essential for me.)

Then if I have a thread of a sense of safety to hang on to, I can deal with the disassociating reaction better as it's not needed quite so much. This where engaging my senses is really helpful - as Chessgirl has great suggestions for. :) A grounding smell is super useful, maybe a little aromatherapy oil bottle mix or something. Or just a tissue, handkerchief with favourite perfume sprayed on to it. (I didn't have any of those, so picking up samples of perfumes and finding ones I liked was another exercise for me!)

Sensation can be good too, which I think is where a piece of ice might come in? :) Although I find soft, gentle textures best or else it risks triggering my more self-harmy grounding techniques of old. I have a squishy cushion, and if I sit with my back up against it then it's so lovely. Although not a very portable option - I have a small plushy toy that fits in my bag which I also find soothing.

It can be a bit of trial and error to see what works for you - and it can change over time too, and as healing progresses, which is always a novel surprise for me somehow. (That black and white fixed thinking!) The scent of outdoor air near plants is good for me, or freshly washed things, or splashing water on my face. Things with good associations really helps, because they're already there and you can kind of make your mind take notice of these instead of the reactions you're having from your thoughts and memories.

Oh, just saw your idea about a crystal rock - what a lovely idea. :D I have a sea-smoothed pebble on my desk, that I like. It feels nice to touch, and reminds me of a sunny calm place where it, er, once lived before I stole it I guess. I figure I'll return it when I don't need it anymore. ;)

plantsandtigers
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Re: Disassociating and grounding techniques

Post by plantsandtigers » Fri May 28, 2021 8:34 am

Hello Adelle,

This is such a helpful thread so thank you for starting it. I use an ice pack and put it on the back of my neck when I feel myself starting to dissociate, my T from years ago told me that cold stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, and that grounds us back into our bodies! I use it every single time and it brings me back into the present. So maybe that's where the ice idea comes from Chessgirl?

I think it's really cool that you can see the memory but not relive it dancingfish, I would love to be able to do that. It makes sense that greater safety allows it to be less overwhelming.

Recently I've stopped fighting the dissocation as it turns into a flashback, trying to trust that it's coming up for a reason and that when I've experienced it I can let it go. I try to remind myself that my adult self is present for the flashback so my younger self feels more supported.

plantsandtigers

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