When we are having a flashback, or as we wake up from a nightmare, our awareness of the things around us in the here-and-now can be diminished. Just as we can re-experience traumatic memories in all of our five senses, we can use those five senses to try and ‘ground’ us back in the present.
Look around you and use those sights to remind yourself that you’re in the present and that you are safe.
It can be helpful to carry an object with us that remind us that we are safe, such as a stress ball, a pebble, or a flower.
Focus on all of the noises around you in the present moment. Use them to remind you of where you are.
Smell can be one of the most powerful ways of learning to soothe and comfort yourself Try using essential oils, your favorite plants, or any comforting aroma.
Strong tastes such as chewing gum can be helpful. For people who re-experience ‘taste memories’ it can be helpful to focus on the absence of taste in the present moment.
Coping with memories: 5-4-3-2-1
When our minds and bodies feel as if they are fully immersed in the past, using all of our senses at once can be a very effective way of bringing ourselves back into the present. Focus on:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel / touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste