We will here introduce you to some exercises called “grounding exercises”. We believe these exercises might be helpful to you. If you want a longer introduction please press here.
1. Grounding the body. (10-15 minutes)
This exercise can help a survivor to come down from hyperarousal and find a more balanced emotional state. It can also be used to focus survivors who are in ‘freeze-mode’. Sit on your chair. Feel your feet touching the ground. Stamp your left foot into the ground, then your right. Do it slowly: left, right, left. Do this several times. Feel your thighs and buttocks in contact with the seat of your chair (5 seconds). Notice if your legs and buttocks now feel more present or less present than when you started focusing on your legs. Now move your focus to your spine. Feel your spine as your midline. Slowly lengthen your spine and notice if it affects your breath (10 seconds). Move your focus toward your hands and arms. Put your hands together. Do it in a way that feels comfortable for you. Push your hands together and feel your strength and temperature. Release and pause, then push your hands together again. Release and rest your arms. Now move your focus to your eyes. Look around the room. Find something that tells you that you are here. Remind yourself that you are here, now, and that you are safe. Notice how this exercise affects your breathing, your presence, your mood, and your strength.
2. The Hug. (5-8 minutes)
This exercise deepens and anchors positive feelings and messages. It is taken from EMDR (Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing), a trauma processing method. The method employs bilateral physical stimulation (in this case tapping), which, combined with positive spoken messages, is said to deepen and anchor positive feelings. The sentence can also be spoken silently. Put your right-hand palm down on your left shoulder.
Put your left-hand palm down on your right shoulder. Choose a sentence that will strengthen you. For example: “I’m a good enough helper”. Say the sentence out loud first and pat your right hand on your left shoulder, then your left hand on your right shoulder. Alternate the patting. Do ten pats altogether, five on each side, each time repeating your sentences aloud.
3. Re-orienting to the present. (10 minutes)
This exercise is of help to survivors in ‘freeze-mode’, who feel numbed and frozen.
Look round you and name 3 things you see.
• Look at something (an object, a colour, etc.)
• Tell yourself what you are seeing.
Name 3 things you hear.
• Listen to a sound (music, voices, other sounds).
• Tell yourself what you are hearing.
Name 3 things you touch.
• Touch something (different textures, different objects).
• Tell yourself what you are touching.
Now, notice your state of mind.
• Do you feel that you are more present in the room or less present after doing the exercise?
• Do you feel calmer or more energised?
This video by Stand4Kind gives a nice example of a “reorienting to the present” grounding exercise.