Grounding Techniques

These are ideas of different techniques that people find useful as a way of feeling more in control of managing flashbacks, unwanted and intrusive thoughts and memories. 

We suggest that you experiment to find out which ones work best for you and it is likely that you may find new techniques that suit you better.

These techniques can be used:

  • When you are having a flashback and an unwanted memory comes into your mind
  • When you are going into a situation which might trigger a flashback
  • To practise daily so that it is easier for you to use them when you are upset or distressed

Babette Rothschild, who has written a lot about trauma reminds us that “Your flashback is a memory not a repeat of the trauma”. If you can notice where you are right now in the present it can help you know that the trauma is not happening again and to work out whether you are in a safe situation or not. If you need to you can then take action to move to somewhere safe.

  • Carry a small stone, coin or other familiar safe object in your pocket and touch it to remind yourself that this is the present.
  • Stamp your feet on the ground and feel where your feet are touching the floor.
  • Rub or tap your hands up and down your arms and feel the contact with your ski.
  • Pull out your mobile phone and check the date and the time and remind yourself that it is the present. 
  • Look around the room, find five objects that are your favourite colour and name them.
  • Name three things that you can hear or smell.
  •  Look out of the window and notice what the sky looks like, its colour and whether there are clouds or not.
  •  Say your name, your age today, where you are, what day it is, the date and the time.
  •  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, noticing the sound of your breath as it blows out. Place your hand on your tummy and breathe in so that you feel your tummy move.
  •  Do something physical, like walking around the block, jumping up and down on the spot, running up the stairs.
  •  Name objects around you out loud and hear your own voice.
  •  Try and remember the words to a song that you like.
  •  Clap your hands, hear the noise and notice your hands meeting each other.
  •  Say positive things about yourself here and now, it may help you to have these written down on a piece of card that you can take out and say out loud.
  •  Talk to someone who supports you.

Babette Rothschild also suggest that when you talk or think about your flashback use the past tense to describe it, to help to remind you that it was what happened in the past and it is not happening to you now.