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  • Writer's pictureCarly Mayo, Counseling Intern

Dissociation 101 and Grounding

The fight to stay connected and present is one most people can relate to in this day and age-and for those of us who deal with anxiety, panic attacks, or dissociation, staying present can be even more of a struggle. Whether you find yourself getting anxious about an upcoming presentation, trying to regain control during a panic attack, or feeling totally disconnected from yourself and reality while experiencing flashbacks or trauma memories, it is important to have tools at the ready to assist you. When you are “grounded” you are present in the world here-and-now. Grounding is an effective tool to add to your mental health toolbox for when you feel out of control or disconnected from your surroundings, your mind, your body, or all three. Below are ten quick ways to ground whenever you find yourself needing to come back into the present moment:

  1. Box Breathing (4 counts breathing in, 4 counts holding your breath, 4 counts breathing out, 4 counts holding no breath, repeat.)

  2. Place an ice pack on the back of your neck to wake up your vagus nerve.

  3. Take a sniff of your favorite essential oils-something strong like peppermint will perk up your senses.

  4. Take off your shoes and pay attention to the different textures and temperatures of the carpet/hardwood/tile floors in your house or the grass outside.

  5. Sing, hum, remind yourself that you are here and have a voice.

  6. Chew mint or cinnamon gum and take a few deep breaths-pay attention to the cold feeling in your mouth and nose.

  7. Move-change the setting. Go outside if you are inside. Go into a light room if you’re in a dark one.

  8. Watch a movie or Youtube video that makes you laugh-remind your brain that it has endorphins to release!

  9. If you dissociate often change up your phone notification tones-the unfamiliar sound will draw you back into the present.

  10. Step away from your phone, TV, or computer. It is easy to fall into a “trace” and let time escape you, however, it’s a coping mechanism that isn’t helping!

The more you practice grounding the more likely you are to learn what works best for you. Perhaps you prefer breathing exercises-or maybe engaging with your sense of smell really wakes you up. Whatever it is, we encourage you to explore your grounding toolbox with your therapist to build a kit personal to you and your journey, and At Cornerstone Counseling and Wellness, we would be honored to walk alongside you. For more information, please visit our website at

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