Trauma-Informed Grounding Techniques can help you know what can help you cope with symptoms of Complex PTSD. This could be self-harm urges, cravings, emotional and visual flashbacks, panic attacks, anger issues, negative thoughts, feeling numb and overwhelmed, etc.
It is thought that connecting with the present time will help you to feel better and cope with how you are feeling. It can be used in response to what is happening to you in a safe way that will not cause you or others any harm whatsoever either in the short term or longer term.
These Trauma-Informed Grounding Techniques can help replace those destructive methods that even though they work in the short term if used repeatedly over time, are causing problems in our lives.
How to use these Trauma-Informed Grounding Techniques
For your benefit, I have highlighted 20 Grounding techniques to help with Complex PTSD that will help to distract you safely, without causing you any harm at all.
Just choose one or two from the list that you think will work for you. It would benefit you also to keep practising them even when you don’t need to use these techniques. This will help you to feel confident about it working when you are really struggling.
The most important strategy you can learn first is to try not to wait till things get really bad before starting any of these strategies. It would be easier for them to work if you did them as soon as could.
20 Trauma-Informed Grounding Techniques:
1. Remind yourself that you are safe
Just take a look around you and see if there is anything that could help to remind you that you are safe now. Maybe you could look home the door that it’s shut. Or you could see that you’ve got a lock on the door.
Or maybe if you are not in the same place you could just take a look around to remind you that you have moved home, and a certain person is no longer around.
To help this further you can say calming words to yourself such as I’m fine now, I am safe, I’m doing okay.
2. Helping you to feel more alert and awake
Begin by taking a few long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for 7 seconds. Then breathe out through your mouth with pursed lips (just like you are blowing up a balloon).
Now, focus on bringing your breath into your upper chest. Take a deep inhale, and then release the breath with a quick exhale. Repeat this breath three or four more times, and then allow your breath to return to a natural rhythm.
3. Hands Over Eye Sockets – Somatic Technique
You can use this grounding technique to help with fatigue or eyestrain.
Sit down. Rest your elbows on your knees.
Cup your hands softly and gently over your eyes. Feel the tender pressure of your hands around your eyes. Focus on how dark it is and also the pressure of your hands around your eyes. Take three breaths. Breathe in for 7 seconds through your nose. Then breathe gently out for 11 seconds through your pursed lips (as if you are blowing up a balloon).
4. Drink something warm or Really cold
Have a sip of a warm drink i.e. tea, coffee, or water. Move your tongue around your mouth.
Focus on the taste, how it feels in your mouth, your teeth, and your tongue. Notice the temperature also.
5. Wear a relaxing eye pillow
When you wear an eye pillow, it softly presses on your eyeballs, and this pressure activates what you call the, oculocardiac reflex. The twelve eye muscles, which together hold your eyeballs in place, regulate your oculocardiac reflex. When pressure is applied to these muscles, they communicate with the vagus nerve, communicating a signal to activate the relaxation response
6. Look at a picture or a plant
Get one that you find nice to look at. When trying to ground yourself try and look at it in detail. Focus on the colors, and the shapes.
With a plant, look at the parts the plant is in just explore the item and try and soak it in.
7. Ground yourself on the floor
Find a quiet, calm space. While lying down on the floor. Let go of your weight into the floor under you. Pay attention to how it feels to relax with this support of the floor. If you notice that you are resisting letting go, see if you can breathe into any tenseness in your muscles.
8. Don’t forget smells help as well
Maybe you prefer a nice smell. Scents such as lavender are so good for you.
You would really benefit from just taking deep breaths. Breath deeply through your nose while smelling in then exhale gently to exhale through your mouth.
Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).
9. Cross your arms
Bring one hand over the opposite arm. Notice how it feels to gently and lovingly touch your arm with your hand. Notice the feel of your skin under your palm. Notice the warmth of your palm against your arm.
Repeat this practice on the opposite arm.
10. Deep relaxing Breathing
Try some deep relaxing breathing. Just inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Then breathe out gently from your mouth.
When breathing through your mouth, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed.
Repeat this several times for a few minutes or until you feel better. This is a great one to do if you are out and about and starting to feel anxious.
Take some deep breaths and try to focus on your belly. Notice how it concave as you breathe in deeply through your nose. Also as it rises when you gently breathe through your mouth.
While you are doing that, you could focus on the air going through your nose and your mouth.
11. Use all your senses
Name five things you can see, Four things you can smell, three things you can hear, two things you can touch then one thing you can taste.
It will help to have some of these things ready where they are easily accessible.
It also doesn’t need to be exactly how I mentioned it. Do what is easy for you at the time.
12. Moving by doing some simple Stretches
Stretching can help you to feel good emotionally. Our bodies hold onto negative emotions and old traumas. You can just do some simple stretches where ever you are but if you want to, you can slip into something comfortable, in a quiet area, light a candle, or some other nice fragrance.
Try some of these great stretches here by following this link
Hold ice clasped between both of your hands. The benefit of doing this is that the pain of the cold won’t harm you in any way.
Whilst holding the ice in your hand, think about what it feels like and how long does it take to melt. Try and concentrate on the transition from the ice to its melting.
14. Feeling Wheel
Working out what you are feeling will go a long way to help you regulate your emotions. Using the Feeling wheel as a grounding technique is a straightforward way to help you do that.
I explain how to use the Feeling Wheel here.
15. Some Simple Maths
Use numbers by counting backward from 100, and doing your time tables. Another way is that you could choose a number and then think of five different ways to make that number.
For example, if you chose 15, the 5 different ways could be 5 + 10; 100 – 85; 5 x 3; 8 + 7; 60 / 4
16. Creative Visualisation
Try and imagine your pain leaving you. You could imagine: taking it out of you and giving it to someone else who you know can manage it.
This could even be a fictitious character such as superman or wonder woman. You could also imagine giving your pain to a religious figure i.e Jesus or Mohammed.
An important part of this is to imagine them taking it away from you;
Other forms of Creative Visualisation could include imagining yourself running, walking, swimming away from your pain or turning the volume down on your internal voice as you would do with a television. Visualise a brick wall or invisible forcefield between you and your pain.
17. Ground yourself in nature
If you feel ok about taking your shoes off, do so. If you can’t make sure you are wearing something comfortable.
Sense how it feels to press your feet into the grass or ground. How does it feel? Try and be in the moment and just focus on your breathing (no need to do any deep breathing).
Notice what you can hear and take the time to listen to those sounds. Notice what you can smell, see and touch.
As I said, trauma is held in the body otherwise from forms of moving, self-massage is a great way of shifting that strain you could be feeling.
You don’t need to try any special techniques if you don’t want to and you could do this with or without massage oils.
I found some great one here that would be a start.
19. Cardio to release some of that energy
A good start to calming down is to do something physical. You could always do this first then follow it up with another grounding technique.
You could always incorporate high-interval training where you have intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of short-term rest. This could be 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this for about 5 minutes.
Jog or sprint on the spot
Run up and down the stairs
Dance around the house while listening to music
Take a brisk walk or run
20. Listen to some relaxing or uplifting music.
Have a playlist ready from Spotify or Youtube of relaxing uplifting music.
Try and avoid songs that are sad, romantic, or have negative lyrics.
What to do next
Which one of these techniques will you try? Have you tried any of these that have worked for you or someone you know in the past?
Don’t forget you can record what works for you in my free “How to Start Your Self-Care Routine “. I have a well-being planner where you can start to record what is working well for you.