Listen to Your Senses
Stress, anxiety, depression, and more are all commonplace throughout recovery. Whether an individual is overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol or tackling the daily trials of mental health disorders, it is normal to feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
These times of duress are incredibly trying as one copes with mental health disorders or experiences urges to reengage with addictive substances. This can ultimately alter one's perception of their environment and relationships. However, while these experiences can engulf an individual in stress and duress, one's senses can be instrumental in navigating these times to ground oneself in reality and process even the most difficult of times.
The Importance of Grounding Yourself
Grounding strategies are essential for those navigating the intricacies of their recovery. Whether an individual is working to overcome addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of the two, there are many ways in which stresses can impact one's daily life. Anxiety, panic, depression, fear, and more can all be prevalent and can alter one's feeling of safety.
Those suffering from panic or other types of duress can perceive harmless objects in a negative and dangerous light, impacting one's mental health and instinctual responses. This duress can also cause an individual to act against their own best interest. Doing so can prompt them to reengage with addictive substances to placate these feelings of fear and anxiety.
Grounding oneself is the practice of reclaiming a shared sense of reality and perspective unclouded by anxiety, depression, panic, or other issues.
It can create a buffer between one's instinctual responses and their higher decision-making skills, This can promote the use of healthy, informed coping strategies to deal with any kind of duress.
Keeping in Tune With Your Senses
One's senses can be the greatest tool for reclaiming a stable mindset. Sight, touch, and sound can all be instrumental in grounding oneself. However, using one's senses is a practiced skill, and there are different ways to employ one's key senses that can help process and navigate the trying times.
Using the Sense of Sight
One's vision during duress can be unfocused, making it so they cannot process what they are seeing – or possibly causing them to perceive things in an incomplete or fictitious light. This inability to focus on any one thing can be the source of many misconceptions about one's environment, leading to dangerous assumptions. However, one's sense of sight can also help to bring each individual back to a shared reality while creating an effective focus for communication.
Focusing on a single object in one's vicinity, regardless of what it is, can help one's swirling, frantic mind to begin focusing on a real component of their environment. A bag of chips, a lamp in the corner, or a bit of fuzz on the ground can all be vectors of focus, helping ground oneself in the moment.
By focusing on this single aspect, an individual can avoid trying to process their entire environment all at once – a practice that leads to mental and emotional overload for those in duress. Focusing on a single aspect in one's field of view can block out unnecessary stimuli while helping to truly define a single element in a fair light. Finding that something simple and innocuous in one's environment is truly devoid of danger or stress can inform much of one's surroundings and grounded perception.
Touch as a Grounding Tool
One's sense of touch is also important, creating a feeling of reality for an individual. Using touch in times of duress can be similar to mindfulness practices. This helps an individual focus on their body and tangible sensations rather than ill-informed assumptions. A soft touch of carpet, dipping one's hands in water, or picking up a physical object can all cause an individual to focus on a single sensation. This can help to better identify the aspects of one's environment while making an individual more aware of their physical being.
By being able to ground oneself in a sense of touch, one can create a better understanding of their environment as well as a more profound awareness of their physiological responses. One's breathing, heart rate, or the tingling in one's fingertips may be prevalent as a result of anxiety or panic. Being able to identify and communicate these feelings can be instrumental in grounding oneself and finding the best possible coping strategies for one's situation.
Sounds of Your Surroundings
Lastly, the use of sound can also be instrumental. Much like touch and sight, focusing on a single source of sound can block out unnecessary and overwhelming stimuli. This can allow an individual to focus on a single element of their environment and navigate the overwhelming nature of duress.
However, sound can also be used as a sense of comfort. Focusing on the voice of a support, one's favorite song, or the sound of one's breathing can all create a better sense of reality and comfort. Using music therapy in conjunction with one's sonorous awareness can create a path to better process and find comfort in the midst of duress during recovery.