Easy Guide to Stop Dissociating

Easy Guide to Stop Dissociating
Dissociating can feel extremely scary and overwhelming. 

It can feel like we are out of control, or maybe we don't even know we dissociated until after the fact.

So what is dissociation? 

And how do make it stop?  

Read ahead to find out more about coping skills for dissociation!

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What is Dissociation?

Before we can figure out how to stop disassociating, let's get clear on what disassociation is.

According to Psychiatry.org, dissociation is a disconnection between a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of who he or she is."

Dissociation is affiliated with the freeze response and can happen during a traumatic experience that may otherwise be too much to bear whether physically, emotionally, or both.

Following a trauma, if we are unable to re-establish safety, our brain may continue to search for imminent threats.

When we get triggered, we may experience some of the same symptoms we experienced during the original trauma. 

Signs of Dissociation

Below are some indicators you may experience dissociation:

-feeling foggy

-feeling numb

-unable to focus

-becoming tired/spacey

-missing or forgetting up to hours (or even days at a time)

For more severe cases, people may experience:

-depersonalization-feeling like you are out of your body

-derealization-feeling like the world around you is not real

It is important to note that we all dissociate to some degree. 

Have you ever pulled into your driveway and realize you don't remember the drive at all? 

To an extent, "spacing out" it is normal. 

When it is persistent and affects our daily functioning, we should start using  coping skills for dissociation. 

4-Step Guide to Stop Dissociation

  1. Make a trigger log
    Start by recognizing when you dissociate.
    What happened right before you dissociated? After you become grounded, write it down in your log, as well as what dissociation felt like for you this time.
  2.  Try out some coping skills
    Coping skills for dissociation that are grounding are essential to making it through dissociative experience.
    Grounding, in this sense, means bringing you back to your body. Instead of feeling floaty/spacey, you will begin to feel grounded to the Earth.
    The right grounding tools should do one or both of these things:
    -Bring you back into the present moment
    -Slowly re-awaken your nervous system

    A great way to do this is by using at least one of your 5 senses.'

    Some examples of coping skills for dissociation are:
    -Play with a fidget toy
    -Smell something with a calming/pleasant scent (ex. Essential oil, favorite candle)
     -Listen to calming music
    -Eat a sour candy
    -Gently splash your face with cold water
    -Play a challenging game or complete a puzzle
    -Go for a walk
    -Find a grounding stone to carry with you

  3. Pick your top 5 coping skills for dissociation and fill an easy to carry bag with the items (or a reminder to use one of the skills)
    Carry your tools with you whenever possible. Put them in your purse, backpack, or workbag.
  4. Use 3-5 skills when triggered. Continue to use them for as long as you need (sometimes it can take up to 20 minutes or more!) until you start to see things more clearly, feel the sensations in your body, and think more clearly.

Conclusion

Dissociating is a frightening and disorienting trauma response

However, there are coping skills for dissociation for when you start to feel spacey or numb. 

Remember to carry your grounding toolbox wherever you go. 

You can even use your tools when you're not triggered too…it'll make you more likely to use them in moments of need! 

Resources 

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Comments 1

Guest - DG on Nov 22nd, 2023

I love the idea of a trigger log! I tend to view things as random when really, if I'd pay attention, I'd likely notice triggers and trends. I was also reading in another post (https://debpreston.com/how-to-stop-dissociating/ if you're interested) that just generally taking care of your health (exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc) will help to decrease occurrences, so I'm going to try to zero in on my general health too!

I love the idea of a trigger log! I tend to view things as random when really, if I'd pay attention, I'd likely notice triggers and trends. I was also reading in another post (https://debpreston.com/how-to-stop-dissociating/ if you're interested) that just generally taking care of your health (exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc) will help to decrease occurrences, so I'm going to try to zero in on my general health too!
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April 17th, 2024

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