Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients (people) With Emotional Pain

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I received a handout titled Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients With Emotional Pain in one of my classes. Instead of summarizing the worksheet I will transfer the worksheet onto this blog by hand. I think these skills are extremely helpful and I do some of them myself and they work wonderfully. I hope you can try some out too!

“Three major ways of grounding will be described-mental, physical, and soothing. “Mental” means focusing your mind; “Physical” means focusing on your senses (e.g., touch, hearing); and “soothing” means talking to yourself in a very kind way. You may find that one type works better for you, or all types may be helpful. Note that grounding is different from relaxation training or meditation. In grounding, it is essential to keep your eyes open the entire time and to keep talking out loud. These strategies keep you focused on the outside world.

Mental Grounding

  • Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are white, there are five pink chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the subways: “I’m on the subway. I’ll see the river soon. Those are windows. This is the bench. The metal bar is silver. The subway map has four colors…”
  • Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to name “types of dogs,” “Jazz musicians,” “States that begin with “A”,” “cars,” “TV shows,” “writers,” “sports,” “songs,” or “cities.”
  • Do an age progression. If you have regressed (mentally) to a younger age (e.g, 8 years old), you can slowly work your way back up (e.g, “I’m now 9” “I’m now 10,” “I’m now 11″…) until you are back to your current age.
  • Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, then I boil the water; I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”).
  • Imagine. Use an image: Glide along on skates away from your pain; change the TV channel to get a better show; think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
  • Say a safety statement. “My name is ____; I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am located in _____; the date is _____.”
  • Read something saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of the words.
  • Use humor. Think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
  • Count to 10 or say the alphabet, very s..l..o..w..l..y.

Physical Grounding

  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Grab onto your chair as hard as your can.
  • Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
  • Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket-a small object ( a small rock, clay or silly puddy, ring, piece of cloth or yarn, a stress ball) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered (anxious, panicky, etc.)
  • Jump up and down in a gentle way. Only coming off the ground a couple inches.
  • Use all five senses. For example: notice five things around you that are a certain color, notice four things you can physically touch, notice three things that you hear, notice two things that you can feel, notice one thing that you can smell. They don’t have to go in this order; you can mix them up.
  • Notice your body: The weight of your body in the chair; wiggling your toes in your socks; the feel of your back against the chair. You are connected to the world.
  • Stretch. Extend your fingers, arms, or legs as far as you can; roll your head around.
  • Clench and release your fists.
  • Walk slowly, noticing each footstep, saying “left” and then “right,” whit each step.
  • Eat something, describing the flavors in detail to yourself.
  • Focus on your breathing noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale (e.g., a favorite color or a soothing word such as “safe” or “easy”).

Soothing Grounding

  • Say kind statements as, as if you were talking to a small child. For example, “You are a good person going through a hard time. You’ll get through this.”
  • Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food, time of day, or TV show.
  • Picture people you care about (e.g., your children), and look to photographs of them.
  • Remember the words to an inspiring song, quotation, or poem that makes you feel better, such as the Serenity Prayer.
  • Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (perhaps the beach or mountains, or a favorite room); focus on everything about that place-the sounds, colors, shapes, objects, and textures.
  • Say a coping statement. “I can handle this.” “This feeling will pass.”
  • Plan out a treat for yourself, such as a piece of candy, a nice dinner, or a warm bath.
  • Think of things you are looking forward to in the next week, perhaps time with a friend, going to a movie, or going on a hike.
  • Create a cassette tape of a grounding message that you can play when needed; consider asking your therapist or someone close to you to record it if you want to hear someone else’s voice.
  • Think about why grounding works. Why might it be that by focusing on the external world, you become more aware of an inner peacefulness? Notice the methods that work for you-why might those be more powerful for you than other methods?
  • Don’t give up.

Try to just pick 1 or 2 things from each category of grounding and see how they work for you. You could always refer pack to this post to try new ones. I have about 11 techniques that work for me; every one will use different techniques for different reasons.

Love,

Shadow.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

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Motivation For Recovery

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“Fear will get people into treatment, but fear alone is not enough to keep them in recovery”

Every person in recovery has a different circumstance or reason for getting involved. Some come because they want to, and some come because someone is telling them too. The reason alone will not keep the person sober. There have been plenty of cases where a person that has to go into recovery ends up wanting to stay because they are enjoying the benefits and some people that want to come into recovery end up relapsing or going back to old behavior. So, the initial reason alone does not prove weather a person will stay in recovery or not.

There are a few things that people should do if they want to remain in recovery. Ill explain my reasoning and then other reasons I learned about today.

I entered treatment after becoming suicidal and ending up in a mental institution for five days. I was diagnosed there for Bi Polar Disorder as well as Trauma, PTSD, and Panic/Anxiety Disorder. I was put on medication immediately. The medication I take is a huge reason why I am 96 days sober today (January 24, 2014). My mental health is the first reason I remain sober. I know that if I were to go back to using alcohol and drugs and other destructive behaviors I would suffer severely because my mental health would be drastically affected. The second reason I am staying sober is for my physical health. I have Crohns Disease on top of everything else so I have to be cautious of what I put into my body. On my 21st birthday I did so many different drugs that I landed myself in the hospital for a week which is an experience I never want to experience again. Using is not worth the consequences for me today. I am also actively working the 12 Steps of AA with a sponsor which helps a lot. I go to one AA meeting a week and I share whenever I feel like I need to. I will be getting my 90 day token tomorrow night; things like that are mile stones for me and they help me keep going. I am experiencing great benefits from staying sober and being vigilant about my mental health recovery. It feels good to take care of myself. I still have very rough circumstances that I have to go through but I’m giving them a chance to change. The reasons I entered into recovery will always be reasons for me to stay sober. They are the roots of my recovery and a reminder of where I was, how dark of a place that was, and why I never want to go back there.

Some ideas about what to do in order to stay sober:

  • Use the rear view mirror analogy. When we are driving in a car we have to tentatively look in our rear view and side view mirrors to see what is behind us. However, if we look in our rear view or side view mirrors for too long we will crash because we wont be seeing what is happening right in front and a little ahead of us. Just like in a car, in recovery we need to look at what is right in front of us as well as what is a little ahead to know what to expect. We need to look back briefly every now and then at what was in the past so we can have a reminder of why we are on the path of recovery. We should not look too far ahead in recover either, because if we get ahead of ourselves there are also consequences. Just like there are if we look too far ahead while driving. We can potentially run a red light that we didn’t see and could end up with a ticket or worse.
  • Remain reminded and teachable. Give this a mindful and fair chance each and every day. If we remain teachable and open, there are great rewards in store for us.
  • Focus on the p[positive results. Sometimes, when people have depression, anxiety, bi polar, schizophrenia, hear voices, have paranoia etc it is hard to see the positive aspects of recovery and life itself. Making an effort towards being mindful of the positive aspects of recovery are so important and give us hope.
  • Avoid impulsive behaviors. Slow down a bit. In addiction and when we have mood disorders and other things going on we tend to act impulsively. However, there is a lot of positive in taking a step back and finding reasoning to what we are feeling impulsive about in order to figure out if our thought or desire is something to follow through with.
  • Build a health non-using support group. It is essential for people in recovery to have people in their lives that are healthy and clean as well. Many of us have had to let go of close to every relationship we had before entering recovery and this can be a very tough situation to get through. It is vital that we make new healthier connections. It is good for us, and good for those we connect with.
  • Get a sponsor and work the 12 steps. The 12 steps have been around for many generations and are still working for everyone that does them. The 12 steps are steps we take to change from the inside out, and to right some of our wrongs that happened before we were in recovery.
  • Stay away from ALL addictive substances.
  • Play the tape through. Before making an impulsive or unhealthy decision, first think about what the next thing will be after making that decision. Think it through in as much depth as possible in order to really get an idea of the consequences of the situation.
  • Reality testing. Search for reasoning to our thoughts in order to discern what is in fact reality. This is especially important for people with dual diagnosis (addiction and mental health).

Most importantly: Never give up on yourself and always validate the fact that your in the solution and doing a wonderful job.

I hope you gained something from this post and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment to this post.

Love,

Shadow.