Feeling focused is an important part of our ability to function in our daily lives. I find, however, that there are times when my head seems to be in the clouds. I feel like my mind is in outer space, instead of grounded here on planet earth. Usually when this happens to me, it is not a good thing. I know that I need to work hard to find a way to get myself in a better space.
There are a two different types of lack of grounding that I will write about today.
- Thoughts in the clouds. In this case the person may be daydreaming amazing fantasies, or have a mind that is miles away from the present due to worries (i.e.: if you have a sick relative in another town, your thoughts may be consumed by their welfare, as opposed to your work. On a happier note, if you are in a new relationship, you may be spending your days at work fantasizing about your nights with your new significant other).
- Feeling detached, as though you are floating around in space. This is often referred to as dissociation. Most individuals experience a form of dissociation at some point in their lifetime, the most common and benign manifestation being “Highway Hypnosis”. Highway Hypnosis is when you are driving and suddenly realize that you have driven a great distance without even realizing – as though you have “woken up” from some altered hypnotic state. Dissociation can be a protective force in one’s life, and can also be an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Even the healthy lack of grounding must be under control in order to ensure that all of the basic life demands that are placed on us are dealt with. This means that, even if we are thrilled with a new relationship, or exciting new life adventure that awaits us, we need to learn to be able to distance ourselves enough from our daytime fantasies to be able to appropriately tend to our daily work and family obligations. When your mind starts to wander, remind yourself that the opportunity will only last if it is managed in the context of your life and your fulfillment of your obligations.
If your mind is with a stressful situation it may be harder to distance yourself from the situation long enough to complete your family and work responsibilities. This may take more discipline. Is it possible for you to make a list of things you must do to after you have met your obligations? Perhaps knowing the list exists will be enough to free you to focus on other issues. Can you give yourself permission to take a few hours and focus on work? If you do, it may allow you to come to the stressful situation with new insights or new energy, as allowing yourself the breathing time can be very helpful in finding new solutions and perspectives.
If you are experiencing a more severe form of dissociation and feel the anxiety associated with frequent feelings of being outside your body and feeling vulnerable and threatened, it maybe wise to seek some psychological assistance. Often dissociation is a protective response to surviving some sort of trauma in our lives. If these coping mechanisms are still in place, it may be that you will need to process the trauma in order for you to be able to move past it and teach yourself to respond to anxiety in healthier ways.
I have found there are some great grounding strategies, when I am feeling like I am too far in the clouds:
- Drinking a warm cup of coffee
- Holding an ice-cube
- Singing my favorite song
- Emailing a good friend
- Eating a snack
- Taking a walk
- Sitting on the floor (it can be very centering, as you connect with the ground – it is a different feel to sitting in a chair)
- Holding a rock
- Hugging a friend or family member
- Journaling (or blogging)
- Calling a friend
You are not alone, if you find yourself more frequently in the clouds than grounded, it may be worth it to reach out and let the people who care about you know that you are struggling.
Today, 338 days ’til 40, I will remind myself that it is normal for my head to be in the clouds sometimes. I will seek to understand why this occurs when it does and I will remind myself that it is okay to reach out for assistance if I need it.
May your head only be in the clouds as part of loving fantasies!
March 20, 2012 at 00:18
Nothing wrong with having the head in the clouds – it’s good for us .. really, so long as we don’t forget to bring it down once in a while and you have given us your recipes for that. Like this post very much. Personal I enjoy being up there .. with my head.
March 20, 2012 at 07:25
Yes, very good point Viveka!!! Sometimes it is nice to have our head in the clouds!!! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 00:28
i have days like with being a caregiver
March 20, 2012 at 07:26
Yes, I am sure you do – and sometimes you probably need days like that in order to keep your sanity as a caregiver. 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 00:31
Having the mental illnesses that I have, I am very familiar with dissociation but it wasn’t till I read your blog and found out what I am experiencing is called dissociation. I am going to bring this up with my psychiatrist next month. Thank you for this article!!! 😉
March 20, 2012 at 07:26
Wow, I am glad this blog was able to teach you a new term – it is a good one too 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 00:58
I love your grounding strategies! Sitting on the floor is something that works well for me ~ but, I don’t often remember to do it. Our diet, too, can make us spacey. Sometimes having a bowl of oatmeal or beans and rice, grains…. and other such foods can quickly help us to get back down to earth 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 07:27
Thanks so much, thursdayschild108! I like your strategy of eating something substantial, warm and filling! I can definitely see how that would be a great grounding strategy! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 01:13
Love this and related to it all 🙂 You explore the subject beautifully…
May all our heads stay in the clouds for only the amazing fantasies!
March 20, 2012 at 07:28
Thank you, balancethroughthelens! Yes, let’s all have wonderful head in the cloud fantasies!!! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 01:29
March 20, 2012 at 07:28
March 20, 2012 at 02:48
Reblogged this on Stuart Otway-Smith.
March 20, 2012 at 07:29
March 20, 2012 at 05:11
I’ve nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Click this link to see what to do now that you’ve received the award. http://tonyakerrigan.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/thank-you-thank-you-for-the-kreativ-blogger-award/
March 20, 2012 at 07:31
Thank you!!! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 06:20
I like your suggestions for ‘coming out of the clouds’. I rather like the clouds, though…because that’s where I get many writing ideas. I know, I know…I have to visit reality now and then.
March 20, 2012 at 07:33
Thanks, Jannatwrites! Hmm, maybe I need to try getting writing ideas from the clouds! I imagine that many of us pull from those moments more than we realize and that they do inspirire us to write, which is a good thing! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 08:36
I’ve had to do that a few times this week; day dream. My last blog post was about my getaway to my own little paradise. I really like your list too. I sing to relieve stress and to keep me grounded.
March 20, 2012 at 09:26
Yes, singing is a great way to get grounded!!! 🙂
The Quiet Borderline
March 20, 2012 at 11:17
In my 13 month hospitalisation, I have gone out of my room, from my bed, and laid on the corridor floor outside on tiled flooring. I found it very grounding. Only problem was the nurses were walking past me thinking that I’ve lost my mind or something! They didn’t understand what I was doing and the fact that it was actually helping me. They just shouted at me to get back in to bed!
Another favourite gounding technique is to have a how shower with lots of fragrenced products such as shower gels and sprays and creams.
The Quiet Borderline
March 20, 2012 at 11:46
Great point, smelly things (preferably pleasant smells!) can be good for grounding!
March 20, 2012 at 13:55
Thanks for liking my journal entry. Your blog entry is my life right now. Could not have come across it at a more perfect time. 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 14:05
Thank you, tobemeagain! I am so glad this post spoke to you and I look forward to reading more of your posts and to hearing more from you! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 14:28
I can identify with you are describing — it’s the days when I just want to sit and “zone out” and have trouble focusing. I’ll be sitting at my desk and just stare outside with not a thought in my head. All the suggestions you made for “coming back to earth” are excellent and I use most of them. Never thought about holding a cold ice cube! LOL. After we lost our cocker spaniel Sammy last year I found jumping in my in-laws cold pool was great to shock me back to reality from the abyss of grief.
March 20, 2012 at 14:36
Hi Saymber, thank you for your comment! Yes, I also have those moments of starting out the window when I should be working! In the end, when I am able to ground myself I feel so much better because I get what needs to be accomplished done and then do not feel guilty!!! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 16:13
When I was in sixth grade, my chair was by the window. Just outside was a large tree, filled with birds and animals. The teacher was dreadful, and the outside world alive in ways the classroom was not. I think I was endlessly in trouble for inattention. I also think the tree, birds, animals, and weathers saved me. It would take many years for me to be comfortable in my being, to live in this house made of flesh and bone. Nature remains a refuge and a place I go to remember who I am, and might be.
Thank you for a thoughtful, helpful post.
March 20, 2012 at 16:28
Thank you, Michael, for your comment. Yes, you are so correct, sometimes our ability to transcend our current circumstances and focus on trees, animals, etc., DOES indeed save us. This is when it is healthy to dissociate. This is also why children can dissociate more than adults, they need it for protection, as adults we can often (but not always) find other wayt to protect ourselves, remove ourselves from a bad situation, etc.)
Great comment! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 16:37
Thank you for this blog. I wish I had seen something a couple of years ago and I recognize dissociation in my current life. Sometimes life gets to big, too fast, too full of things and it’s hard to stay in the here and now.
March 20, 2012 at 16:47
You are welcome, norinep, and thank you for your continued visits and great comments! I agree, life can get too big too quickly and sometimes we are in the midst of a touch situation before we even realize what has happened….. then we have to slowly find ways to get re-centered and find our way back to ourselves. Dissociation is a good warning sign – our mind and body telling us that we need to slow down and take care of ourselves. Thanks again for your comment!
March 20, 2012 at 16:47
Totally agree! nothing like a simple down to earth activity to set out roots back down in the ground 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 16:54
Yes, we can all use some down to earth activities – even when we are grounded!!!! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 17:49
March 20, 2012 at 16:56
I appreciate what you’ve said about dissociation, “400”. During a particularly traumatic time in my life, people would tell me to just “let it go”, but I knew that if I didn’t face up to it, ask it to explain itself, I would never be free of it. I wrote about it. Those same people called that “obsessing.” I am still writing about it, and I can see I have done the right thing, as it has broadened my perspective and given me distance from my problem. I am healthier and wiser now.
March 20, 2012 at 21:44
Thank you, Dion, for your important comment. When we have been through traumatic experiences, we cannot “just get over it” – in fact, those who claim to get over it are often stuffing many emotions that come out in other ways later in life. It is so much healthier to process, write, etc. You will be in a healthy space for giving yourself the healing space you need. I have found, in my own life, eventually the need to process runs its course – depending on the event, that could take a short amount of time or years…. what I have also learns is that if you do not let it run its course properly, it will come back to haunt you.
Thank you again for your great comment!
March 20, 2012 at 17:28
really insightful 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 17:56
Candida Abrahamson PhD
March 20, 2012 at 19:54
Just checkin’ back in to make sure you were still at it–and still coming up with words of wisdom. You have an Eye in the Sky here with me, as I’m intrigued by your journey, and want to know what people learn when they truly examine their lives as they approach 40 these days (my days of approaching 40 are lost in a mist!). Keep writing–and learning about what’s really YOU. Best, Candida
March 20, 2012 at 21:57
Thanks, Candida!!! Yes, I am still going strong (even on the nights when I write my posts while barely able to keep my eyes open!) I WILL reach my goal!!!! 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping in again – you are always welcome 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 22:36
I don’t quite understand why dissociation as you describe it (feeling detached and floating around in space) should be seen as a negative thing and something to fear, or why a sensation of being outside my body (something that I have only one experience of, dreaming(?) under gas for some dental work that I could watch my body sink into an unconscious slump and then swim into the stars) should make me feel vulnerable.
Sometimes we need to let go, to stop trying to control ourselves and our worlds and to listen. If we can’t do that, that’s a problem.
March 20, 2012 at 22:57
You bring up a good point, dependent on the situation, sometimes dissociation is not a bad thing. It can feel very freeing and relaxing. They key is to understand why and how and when it is happening. Some individuals dissociate when they are overwhelmed with life, and sometimes they do so in inopportune moments. When this is the case, they need assistance to learn coping strategies that will allow them to “stay present” so that they can live more productively.
I think your comment is a good reminder that nothing is black and white – there is no all good or all bad… life must be taken in context.
Thank you for the great reply! I hope you stop by again and share more insight.
March 21, 2012 at 19:54
20 mg of Ritalin works for me
March 21, 2012 at 22:17
haha! You made me laugh, paranoid4life!!! I am certain you are not the only blogger out there that finds Ritalin is a great way to be grounded!!! 🙂
March 21, 2012 at 20:24
Excellent ideas! Love your blog!
March 21, 2012 at 22:24
Thank you, Cathy!!! 🙂
March 21, 2012 at 20:39
To a certain degree, the creative among us *need* to keep heads in the clouds. But yes, it’s necessary for everyone at some point to focus enough to keep life on track: eat when nutrition’s needed; sleep when tired; pay bills, keep one’s shelter in repair, stay in the correct lane and headed in the right direction. So it’s nice to know some simple strategies for recapturing the necessary focus at the necessary times.
I enjoyed reading your list of such things, but have to admit that I was also picturing the ridiculous extreme if one should try to apply many or all of the strategies simultaneously, obviously an outgrowth of my letting my attention wander off into the clouds again . . . !
March 21, 2012 at 22:28
Thanks, Kathryn! Your comment made me laugh! Now I am trying to picture myself implementing all grounding strategies simultaneously! Is that over-achieving???? 🙂 Yes, I agree with you, everything is in balance at and times it is healthy for us to allow ourselves to have our heads in the clouds. Thank you for your great insight, I hope to hear more from you! 🙂
March 25, 2012 at 03:32
My head is constantly in the clouds. The two things that bring me back are my little monster and my wife. They always remind me to come back to reality.
March 25, 2012 at 12:11
Yes, family has a wonderful ability to bring us back to reality quickly!!! 🙂
March 25, 2012 at 23:10
I spent a lot of today feeling really spacey. Even when trying to run my radio show I kept missing cues, unplugging cables and generally making a mess!
Everyone keeps blaming it on ‘baby brain’ but to be honest, I think I just needed to rest my mind. Normally that does wonders for getting my head back where it needs to be. 🙂
March 26, 2012 at 07:51
Oh no, it sounds like you had one of those days when everything is just a bit “off”. I agree with you, sometimes it can be as simple as us being over tired (physically or cognitively) and just being able to rest our minds (whether by sleep or past-times that require less intense brain engagement such as knitting or taking a walk) makes such a difference. I hope that tomorrow is a better day for you! 😉