It’s been a bit since I last posted specifically about grounding skills, so, if you can’t even remember the previous post, here’s a handy link.
In a nutshell, grounding skills are things that we do to help ourselves stay in the present when an unpleasant memory tries to suck us back into the past. They are your first, most basic tool for managing your symptoms. Usually, grounding skills are activities that keep your mind focused on something in the here and now- so, when a bad memory pops up, your grounding skills keep you… grounded.
Let’s divvy up grounding skills into two basic categories: there’s what you do to cope in an emergency (like when you’re being triggered by things like fireworks or thunderstorms ) – those situations require a specific, immediate response to help you to re-orient that that was then, and you are here now, and you are not in danger.
But – aside from these “emergency grounding skills”, there’s what we’ll call the “everyday grounding skills”: when you feel wound up, your mind is racing, and you need something to do keep yourself from getting sucked in. Hobbies that keep your hands busy and your mind focused are a good way of “everyday grounding” yourself. Photography is a great example.
You don’t need to have a super fancy camera (although if you really get into photography, you may end up buying some fancy stuff).
It keeps your mind busy because you need to think: what do you want to photograph? Where are you going to go, to take the pictures that you want to take?
Once you find some sights that you want to photograph, you need to figure out how you want to capture those sights…
Do you want to focus on the tree in the foreground?
…Or, would you rather use the tree to frame the scene, and focus on the bridge in the background?
Which image do you like better?
It’s not a trick question, and there’s no right or wrong answer. But – if you can look at both pictures and have an opinion – then photography might be a hobby for you to consider. So grab a camera (or even your phone to start with), and go out for a hike. Find some stuff you want to take pictures of.
I’d love to have you share your thoughts, comments, and questions. If you do post a comment, please don’t give specific details of your trauma – these may be triggering to another reader. If you’d like to offer criticism, I’ll take it – I know I’m not perfect, and I’m always willing to learn. If you do offer criticism though, I’d really appreciate it if you could do so constructively (ie., no name-calling, please). Thanks…
~ Dr. Dee Rajska, C. Psych.
*Fine print: Please feel free to share the link to this blog wherever you think it might be helpful! Reading this blog is a good start, but it’s no substitute for professional help. It takes a different kind of courage to admit to yourself that you’re struggling. PTSD is not a sign of failure – it’s a sign that you’ve been through a lot, and have tried to stay strong for too long. If you need help – you’re in some pretty great company. Reach out, and give yourself a chance to feel better.
**Really fine print: The content of Coming Back Home is copyrighted; please feel welcome to share the link, but do not copy and paste content. Unless otherwise noted, all original photography on Coming Back Home is the copyrighted property of Larry M. Jaipaul; please do not copy images without permission.