5 Grounding Techniques for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Grounding Techniques Use The Five Senses

person turning up radio
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Grounding is a particular type of coping strategy that is designed to "ground" you in or immediately connect you with the present moment. Grounding is often used as a way of coping with flashbacks or dissociation for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this way, grounding can be considered a variant of mindfulness.

Grounding techniques often use the five senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight) to immediately connect people with the here and now.

For example, listening to loud music, holding onto a piece of ice, or biting into a lemon are all grounding techniques that produce sensations that are difficult to ignore, thereby directly and instantaneously connecting you with the present moment.

5 Grounding Techniques

Grounding allows you to retain your connection with the present moment and reduce the likelihood that you slip into a flashback or dissociation.

To ground, you want to use the five senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight). To connect with the here and now, you want to do something that will bring all your attention to the present moment. A couple of grounding techniques are described below.

  • Sound: Turn up the radio.
    Loud music is hard to ignore. And as a result, your attention will be diverted from a flashback or dissociation and directed toward that noise.
  • Touch: Grip an ice cube.
    If you notice that you are slipping into a flashback or a dissociative state, take hold of an ice cube. It will be difficult to direct your attention away from the extreme coldness of the ice, forcing you to stay in touch with the present moment.
  • Smell: Sniff strong peppermint.
    When you smell something strong, it is very hard to focus on anything else. In this way, smelling peppermint can bring you into the present moment, slowing down or stopping altogether a flashback or an episode of dissociation.
  • Taste: Bite into a lemon or lime.
    The sourness of a lemon or lime and the strong sensation it produces in your mouth when you bite into it can force you to stay in the present moment.
  • Sight: Take an inventory of everything around you.
    Connect with the present moment by listing  to what is going on around you. Identify all the colors  and patterns you see. Count all the pieces of furniture around you. Taking an inventory of your immediate environment can directly connect you with the present moment.

Treatment for PTSD

You can find PTSD treatment providers in your area through the Anxiety Disorder Association of America website, as well as UCompare HealthCare from About.com. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) also provides a wealth of information on the connection between trauma and dissociation, how to cope with dissociation, and provides links to therapists who treat trauma and dissociation.

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