It’s common to hear folks navigating psychiatric drug withdrawal describe feeling out of their bodies, shut down, over-stimulated, panicked, spiralled out, or uprooted and disoriented—often times while simultaneously grappling with intense emotions, disturbing thoughts or memories, difficult sensory experiences, or physical pain. For many of us who’ve felt these ways while coming off medications, finding our own ways of remembering and getting back in touch with our bodies has helped us more effectively move through these otherwise potentially immobilizing experiences. By regularly practicing whatever grounding methods you find useful and effective, the better able you’re likely to become at shifting out of “fight or flight” mode and getting back into yourself, your body, and the present moment. Many people report this to be an empowering and even liberating practice.
Below is a very basic curated list of some grounding exercises. They’re listed here as a springing-off point for you to find your own ways of reconnecting:
- If you’re feeling detached from your body, try rubbing your arms and legs so you can feel where your body starts and ends.
- Wrap yourself in a blanket and feel it around you and against your skin.
- Listen to and really notice the sounds around you: any household appliances, traffic, voices, birds, wind, et cetera.
- Focus mindfully on your breathing and take deep slow breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth, feeling your belly expand and the air moving up and down your throat.
- Notice the boundary of your skin—the feel of the clothes against your skin—the different parts of your body.
- Hold an object (a stuffed toy, a smooth stone, a mug, a ring, a watch, et cetera) and as you do, feel your connection to it through your touch.
- Place a cool cloth on your face, or hold something cool such as a glass of cold water. Take your attention to the sensation of cold against your hand and stay with it for a while.
- If you are outside, become aware of the feel of the sun on your skin, or the rain if it’s raining. If you can, lean against a tree. Inhale the scents of the grass and other plants. Listen to the sounds around you.
Photo courtesy of Aimé Cichero and Flickr Creative Commons.