Nightmares can be truly horrible and waking from one can leave you feeling very shaking and vulnerable. Trying to banish the pictures in your head of what has been happening in your dream can be very hard.
Grounding techniques can be helpful in bringing you back to the real world, for nightmares, anxiety attacks, panic attacks.
Put on a light. Try to get out of bed and put something warm on if you feel shivery. Make a hot drink and sit somewhere safe and comfortable. As you sip your drink say out loud your name, where you are and tell yourself you are safe.
Look round your room and identify familiar objects. Your pictures on the walls, a favourite ornament, a special soft toy, which you may want to pick up and cuddle.
If there are still images in your head that you don’t want to be there tell them out loud to go away and immediately focus on something very familiar in your room.
Put down your drink, place your feet firmly on the floor, hold the arms of your chair, or clasp your hands in front of you, and physically feel the floor with your feet and feel the arms of the chair, or one hand grasping the other. Achieving this will literally “ground” you in the here and now.
Now try to focus on your five senses;
SEEING – look around you and say out loud five objects that you can see – maybe a picture, a bedside rug, a vase of flowers, your curtains, and a clock.
HEARING – Maybe you can hear your own breathing, a clock ticking, birds beginning to sing outside, a familiar creak of floorboards, a car in the distance
TOUCHING – the softness of one hand against the other, the fabric of your chair, the material of what you are wearing, the warmth or coolness of your skin, the hardness of a wooden table.
SMELLING – any scent you might be wearing or soap you have used, the detergent you have washed your clothes in, maybe a cigarette if you are a smoker, any flowers that are in your room (leaves too have a distinctive smell), furniture polish
TASTING – the saltiness of your own skin, the trace of toothpaste in your mouth, the drink you have made yourself, imagine the taste of your favourite food, the cold taste against your tongue of the by now empty mug.
All the above are only suggestions – you will find your own “five senses”. This will take as long as it takes. There is no time scale. Everyone is different. Like anything else it takes practise. We are all individuals.
When you feel strong enough to return to bed tell yourself very firmly that you will not have that bad dream again. If it does visit you again, don’t blame yourself – it is NOT YOUR FAULT