Creating a safe place: the skill of grounding...

Grounding is a mindfulness technique that can help those who have suffered from trauma regain a calmer state during bouts of anxiety or panic that may arise from PTSD and C-PTSD. Grounding can be done anywhere, anytime and no one has to know you are doing it. I use grounding to get to a calm place when I am faced with a trigger, having a flashback, or for emotional regulation when I am feeling stressed or upset.

There are three types of grounding: mental, physical and self-soothing techniques. Some examples of each:

  • Describe your environment using detail and all of your senses

  • Mentally go through the steps to an everyday activity like making a meal

  • Count to 10 or recite the alphabet

  • Run warm water over your hands

  • Go for a quick walk and really notice your heels and feet making contact with the ground

  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket ( I use a smooth stone or a crystal)

  • Focus on your breath

  • Picture people you care about and look at photos of them

  • Recite the words to a favorite inspirational quote, song or poem

  • Visualize a 'safe place'

  • Create and repeat a coping statement such as 'this feeling will pass' or 'I am safe'

It is helpful to try a few different methods of grounding to find what works well for you, or even create your own. Once you have found one or two that you like then it is really important to practice them as often as you can when you don't need them, so that when you do actually need one, you will know it and use it well.

I have a couple of grounding techniques that have become my favorites. An easy one which I can use anywhere is to carry an object in my pocket. I have a smooth stone or a lapis crystal star to choose from and when I am feeling triggered or anxious I simply hold it in my hand and really focus on the smoothness of it with my fingers.

Another grounding technique that really works for me is my 'safe place visualization'. I have a couple of 'safe places' to go to in my mind, but my favorite is the river. With the safe place visualization I use all of my senses to imagine I am right there sitting beside the river. I often use a photograph to help (like the one below). I close my eyes and imagine the sounds of the birds and the wind, the feel of the water or the sand, or whatever it is that brings a sense of inner peacefulness.

With practice, grounding techniques only need to take a few minutes, and can be used anywhere to help regulate emotions and self-soothe.