3 Ways to Practice Grounding

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Grounding is one of my favorite coping skills and I often recommend it to others. I learned more about this skill a few years ago during a treatment intervention training for persons diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use (Seeking Safety). I started teaching and implementing these skills during individual and group counseling, and I began using these skills for my own self-soothing. I saw how clients benefitted from these skills and I also saw the hard work that goes into practicing and staying motivated to use the skills. Grounding is strategy to help you reconnect with the present moment by focusing on what is happening externally as opposed to being drawn internally. Grounding practices may also be referred to as healthy detachment, calming, looking outward, or centering.

Grounding techniques can be helpful for reducing emotional pain, especially when you are overwhelmed and find it difficult to be in the present moment. In essence, grounding helps you to be anchored in the present and to reality. It’s important to note that while grounding helps you to stay in reality and the present moment, it is not used to forget your experiences, instead, grounding helps you to feel more regulated so you can deal with stressors and other life events. Grounding skills are often taught to persons who experienced trauma and in addiction recovery, however anyone can use these skills at any time! It may also be a great idea to start your day with some of these skills so you feel grounded and calm before you begin your daily activities.

Mental Grounding (focusing your mind):

  • create a safety statement (eg., I am safe right now. I am in the present moment and I am located in ______)
  • describe your environment in great detail (describe everything you can about the space you are in)

Physical Grounding (focusing your senses):

  • move your body (running, walking, yoga, dance)
  • focus on breathing (notice each inhale and exhale)

Soothing Grounding (being kind to yourself)

  • say kind statements to yourself (I am a good person, I am doing my best)
  • think of good things you are looking forward to in the next few days

If grounding doesn’t work for you, continue practicing! If these are new skills it may take some time (and practice) for the skills to make sense or feel comfortable. Here are some tips:

  • practice as often as you can
  • find a skill that you like the best and continue practicing until you feel comfortable adding new skills
  • ask a loved one to join you in your practice or teach someone else about the skill
  • be easy with yourself as you learn these skills and remember you don’t have to do all the skills, all the time

If you practice grounding skills, think about these questions and journal your responses:

  • What is your experience when you practice grounding? What is it like for you?
  • Where in your body do you feel these practices the most?
  • When do you most need to practice grounding?

Check out my Instagram for more grounding tips and information this week!

~ Karisse C

Najavits, L. M. (2002). Seeking safety: A treatment manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse. Guilford Press

3 Things I Learned From Virtual Yoga Classes

My relationship with yoga began in 2009 and I’ve always had in-person teachers with random YouTube videos here and there purely for entertainment. Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed going to a physical space to practice hot yoga and it took me some time to find a yoga studio where I felt comfortable. I accidentally discovered hot yoga a few years ago and it was something I really enjoyed so I miss being in a studio to practice and sweat in the heat. However, because of this pandemic related shift, my yoga practice also took a significant turn (in a good way!).

In 2020, I had my first experience with yoga classes via zoom and it was alright. Okay, it was awkward at first but then I got used to it. I experimented with many types of yoga classes (YouTube videos, livestream from 3 different yoga studios, and some pre-recorded sessions from another studio) but something just didn’t feel good and I wasn’t sure what it was.

After much experimentation and exploration, I discovered that it wasn’t the yoga itself that didn’t feel good, it was actually the lack of consistency I experienced (actually this happened since my most recent move and it really intensified during lockdown in 2020). It was only during this exploration that I realized that for as long as I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve had 3 teachers: my first teacher for about 6 years, then I moved and had 2 consistent teachers for 3 years. Since my last move, I’ve been on the “hunt” for a good yoga studio which meant I took classes with many teachers. Thankfully, I found a yoga teacher (virtual) and I have been practicing with her since January 2021 and it has been the best experience ever! I will share more about this experience in another post because it has been an incredible journey not only in my yoga practice, but also in self-study.

Here are 3 things I learned from virtual yoga:

  • virtual yoga takes a different kind of discipline: instead of getting dressed and driving or walking to a studio (which has some accountability in itself), you click a button and join a class from the comfort of your home or wherever you want to practice. If the teacher has a large online class, it might be easy to get “lost” in the practice and not get individual attention that you may get in an in-person class.
  • adjustments look different and it’s not for everyone: if the teacher is not paying attention to you online (either because it’s a large class or the teacher is practicing while teaching and can’t look at the screen to see you), you may not get (verbal) adjustments which may be disappointing for some. With online yoga, the teacher gives verbal adjustments and cues and you have more responsibility for adjusting yourself.
  • virtual yoga classes can seem impersonal: with the exception of my current yoga teacher, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken a virtual yoga class and felt like the teacher actually saw me and paid attention to me. One time, the teacher recorded the class without telling me and by the time I realized we were halfway through the class and all I could think about was how uncomfortable I felt and it shifted the energy for my practice (I was also the only virtual student in the class…awkward!).

If you are thinking of joining a live virtual yoga class, here are 3 things to ask yourself before you joing:

  • do you have any injuries and may need the assistance from a teacher for adjustments or modifications? You may want to ask the yoga teacher how they can assist/guide you during the virtual class before you decide on joining
  • how do you feel about having your camera on? some students leave their camera off during yoga classes for their privacy. However, this creates a barrier for the teacher to be able to see you and safely give verbal cues. Also, I discovered that not all yoga teachers use a platform like zoom where they can interact with you in real-time. Some instructors use platforms where you can see them live but they cannot see you
  • do the virtual times fit with your schedule? One good thing about some virtual classes is the variety of times the classes are offered. This may be an advantage for you especially if you have busy days. On the other hand, some classes were offered during times that interrupted my usual schedule so I was unable to attend.

Have you tried virtual yoga? I’d love to know more about your experiences!

~ Karisse C

Three Ways to Practice Mindfulness When you Eat

homemade blueberry doughnuts

I believe that part of our well-being and self-care practices should be to pay close attention to our needs, that includes our physical needs. One way that I have been doing this is by listening and noticing how my body responds (and in some cases reacts) to certain foods. Sometimes, it can be quite frustrating to figure out what to eat and quite frankly, most times it seems like a full time job to do meal prep! Can you identify with this? 

When I feel frustration around meal prep, I tend to let it slide and order take-out. While it may be good in the moment (and very convenient), my body doesn’t always agree. 

Okay, point well taken. Instead of leaning into the frustration of what to eat, I focus on what messages my body might be trying to tell me about what I eat. I started turning this into a self-love project by being a bit more intentional about what I eat and how my body may respond. I am not making judgments about whether the food is good or not, instead, I focus on whether it feels right for my body at that time. To do this, it’s helpful to slow down and really focus on what I am eating (mindful eating). I pay attention to:
– the texture of the food
– the taste of the food
– the colors on the plate/in the bowl/on the napkin
– the way my stomach digests the food
– extending gratitude for being able to enjoy the meal

fruit plate for breakfast

So, no matter what you eat next, consider these 3 mindful practices while eating:

– before you eat, take a moment to observe what you are about to eat and practice gratitude in the moment
– visualize how the food will provide nourishment, comfort, or happiness as you eat
– make a note of your favorite foods and highlight the ones that you especially enjoy so you can make those meals as part of your self-care

How do you practice mindfulness while eating? What do you observe about yourself while you eat? I’d love to hear about your mindful eating practices!

~ Karisse C

Self Care Ideas When Life Seems Busy

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It’s been a pretty busy summer and I have been paying close attention to my self-care needs as often as I can. One thing I notice is that self-care does not have to be a big event or expensive! Recently I wrote about ways to show up for yourself each day and practicing self-care is also an act that can be done each day.

Continue reading “Self Care Ideas When Life Seems Busy”

Four Ways to Find a Moment of Pause Throughout The Day

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The start of a new week can be hectic for some persons – there are lots of family obligations, meetings, appointments, work responsibilities, and community obligations. For others the start of a new week might be slow and then things pick up around mid-week. No matter your situation, this may be a good moment to take a deep breath.

Inhale…Exhale.

Whether you’re working from home, at the office, or in the community, it’s important to find moments in the day to pause for your mental health. Taking a moment to pause can help you to feel refreshed, to feel a bit more calm, and gives your brain a little break from the routine.

Here are 4 suggestions to find moments of pause throughout your day:

Set a timer for every hour to take a break: If every hour doesn’t seem practical given the nature of your work, you can determine how often you set the alarm. The goal is to pause whatever you are doing when the alarm goes off and give your mind, eyes, and body a few mins of rest. You can close your eyes at your desk, pop in your headphones and listen to your favorite song, or it may be your timer to eat lunch!

Eat lunch in a different spot from your laptop or work computer: If possible, eat lunch away from your computer. There are a few ways you can do this. If you can’t leave your desk, you can turn off the computer screen (or lock the computer) while you eat. That way you are not distracted by emails or other activities on the computer. You can shift your chair to another spot to eat, or take your lunch outside. The goal here is to be present with your lunch and savor the meal without distractions.

Enjoy a quiet drive/ride home after work: For some people, the drive or ride home from the office is the only time to be alone. Try driving with the radio off or if traveling in public transportation, leave the headphones in your bag and just listen to the sounds around you. During the ride or drive home, you can process your day or just enjoy the silence.

Take a short walk and observe what is around you: Take a short walk around your office (indoors or outdoors), or around your neighborhood as a quick retreat from work. On the walk, notice what colors, sights, and sounds you encounter. Here are 5 ways you can be mindful when taking a walk.

What are some other ways you might be able to find moments of pause throughout your day?

~ Karisse