There are times when we become so emotionally overwhelmed by anxiety, anger, sadness, frustration, and other emotions, that we lose our connection with our bodies and the world around us, as if we’re fully disconnecting. We feel the intensity of the emotions increasing, but don’t have the skills to stop it and we get overtaken by the wave.
In emotionally charged situations, we can feel threatened and our bodies prepare us to deal with the threat. Our sympathetic nervous system increases, our heart rate and slows our digestive system; we get shaky, our mouths get dry, our faces get flushed, and we can get blurry or tunnel vision. This is a normal process that prepares us for the flight, fight, or freeze response, however, it can go into overdrive. Our bodies can get so overwhelmed that we can have memory lapses, sudden panic, flashbacks, out of body experiences that strange floaty feeling. We are no longer living in the present. We’re in some frightening strange land, unable to get back.Luckily, there are ways to help you get back to your body. Today we want to introduce you to a specific technique that can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system so your body can get back into balance and you can reconnect with the world around you.
– Grounding: Notice the objects around you in as much detail as possible. Use all of your senses (remember not to use anything that can be triggering for you). The color, make and model of cars, the color of the walls and furniture, the feel of your body as you sit or stand, any smells, or the feel of your feet touching the ground. The Veterans Hospital Administration (VA) has a number of free guided exercises that you can access here: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/
For example, if you suddenly remember a time when you were in terrified, your body prepared to fight, run away, or freeze, and you felt emotionally overwhelmed, then that’s a golden opportunity to practice grounding: you can stomp your feet on the ground as if you’re becoming the trunk of a tree, pay attention to that moment of grouping your body, and then do your best to shift the focus of your attention to your surroundings. Stay curious to the best you can and start describing every single thing around you.Remember to give this technique time. It can take up to 30 minutes for intense emotions to decrease.