Pretty much all of the work I do here is really stressful and I often feel very overwhelmed by emotions and get totally flooded. Frequently, I end up dissociating, which does no good for working through issues in therapy. Because of this, it is important for to me to have grounding techniques and tools. Basically, grounding brings me back into the present and changes my focus so that I can stop feeling flooded. The goal is to calm myself enough to continue the work. Examples of grounding techniques I use are 5,4,3,2,1 , ice pack/cool cloth, breathing, sensory input, hand fidget toys, reading book titles, counting things, etc. Some of these I can do on my own, some end up being facilitated by my therapist if I am dissociated.
I do well with sensory input, like my stuffed rabbit, or the ice/cool washcloth, or things with texture or that fit in my hand. I will automatically start rubbing the hem of my shirt, or fiddle with my socks. I have some toys, putty, a baby teether with spinning beads, etc that give me something to do with my hands and give me sensory feedback.
However, I recently found the most amazing grounding tool for me! I snagged it a local Goodwill. It is a Crayola product, they call it Mess-Free Touch Lights. It is basically finger painting, but without the mess. Technically, the toy is supposed to have a stylus, but being at Goodwill, mine doesn’t. But that’s okay. I much prefer the tactile input of just using my fingers to draw on it. And the best part is it is a light board, so the drawing is backlit and just looks really cool. I use the board before bed if I am anxious and/or having a PTSD hard time. I also use it at programming. Actually, I was lucky enough to find a second one at Goodwill, so now I don’t have to tote my board back and forth.
Here’s what it looks like:
And here’s what it looks like with some doodles and then with a hand print and some of the color options.
Anyway, I just adore this toy and it totally works for me. Oh…and if I leave it by my chair at programming, sometimes I am lucky enough to come back to it and find messages from my peers; smiley faces, “I love you” and one time one of my group leaders was talking to me and reminding me to cut myself some slack and she wrote “Kind” on my board.
I have to say, if you like hands-on grounding things, I highly recommend this.