Grounding for Dissociation

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

Everyone has some form of dissociation. People may range from zoning out or daydreaming to experiencing dissociative identity disorder. Folks may wonder why they’ve been feeling more absent minded or forgetful and it could be a number of reasons. I love to make sure their physical health is okay and before jumping to other stuff I like to check in with their stress and how this feels in their body and psyche. Here are some suggestions to address dissociation and they’re in no particular order.

  1. Take the test. With every assessment there are issues. This is a great dissociation questionnaire; however, it doesn’t account for as much of the cognitive dissociation I’d prefer. For example, I serve folks recovering from obsessive and intrusive thoughts and this questionnaire doesn’t ask much about obsessive thoughts taking someone away from the present moment. Nonetheless, if you’ve been feeling out of it or not in the present as much as you’d like, you may benefit from taking this questionnaire to get an idea of your dissociation. http://traumadissociation.com/des Knowing more about what’s up can be so helpful.
  2. Feel your body. Doing a daily body scan can also be so helpful. If people are not sure what emotions they feel or they’re not sure where these emotions come up in their bodies I like to direct them to a few key points. I direct the person to check in with their forehead, jaw, throat, shoulders, heart space, seat, and arms and legs. You can also do a more formal and thorough scan of the body to see if there’s tension, ease, heaviness, tightness, etc. If you experience some dysphoria as you check in with certain areas in your body maybe start with areas that are less charged. This is a practice of safety, not pushing oneself past a space that feels safe. For some, escaping the body served you very well at one point or another. If attuning with your body makes more sense for you now, it can be so skillful to do a couple of check ins with key areas in your body. I tend to check in with my forehead, jaw, shoulders, heart space, and low back. These are areas I’ve noticed carry more feelings than the rest of my body. Noting or observing feelings that are there is so helpful so they don’t go ignored or get stuffed down through the fast vibes of the day. You’re so worth it to be in your body now.
  3. Ground. Another helpful way to approach these zoning out spells is to ground oneself. I like to keep it super simple with this one. When our minds or bodies or sweet little sympathetic nervous systems are feeling chaos or distraction we can tune in with the moment and ground ourselves in the here and now. One might state the ground they are on; for example, I’m often on Muwekma land. You can also try noting three things you see, three things you see, and three things you feel right here in this moment. If one of those senses are not accessible you can try grounding with another sense. You can tune into the sensory experience fully. For example, you can feel the softness, bumps, heaviness, and warmth of the material on your lap right here in this moment before moving onto a second thing you feel in this moment.
  4. Explore where it comes from. I’d recommend talking with someone or joining a group where you can explore said dissociation if you feel safe exploring. Some reasons for dissociation may be because someone is feeling triggered from a childhood wound (such as abandonment), oppression (such as racist remarks), life stressors (such as a pandemic), etc. People may experience lapses of being present, feeling they aren’t really here or real, forgetting things, or are more distracted. With a gentle lens they can view what is going on for them. Perhaps a friend left them or their caregiver is sick. This could elicit grief and the person may not notice the grief so much but they may see that they are more absent minded, forgetful, or day dreaming more often. This is totally understandable. That is perfectly okay and we can go back to compassion for those parts of you that may have had to dissociate in order to protect themselves. Knowing that some of what’s going on is dissociation may help you get supported and share. Talking about it in a trusting environment can get you the connection you need during these times. You are so worthy and enough of getting support for any dissociation or other trauma and stressor symptoms you may be experiencing.

Thanks so much for learning a bit about what’s up with your zoning out moments and feel free to check in next week for more about loving you.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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