Anchoring Rituals — Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites is a monthly installation for 2019 featuring the mental health and self care picks of our very own LifeWorks Staff.  We have been highlighting books, self-soothing items, blogs/instagrams, places to move your body around Chicago, and more — all personally endorsed by LifeWorks staff. This month we are talking about anchoring rituals.

Anchoring rituals are ceremonies (of some kind) that we use to tether us through rough seas so we don’t shipwreck. Doing something mindfully to help feel connected and grounded is one way that we can help sustain ourselves through difficult transitions or transformations. Below are the ceremonies, rituals, and rites that have helped us stay anchored when the storms set in.

As always, please head to the comments section and let us know what you do to anchor yourself!

Crystal Adams:

In the warmer months, I like taking leisurely walks along the lakefront/beach with my headphones on, listening to music. Or, simply lying on the beach with my eyes closed listening to the sounds of nature.

During cooler months, I favor curling up under my comforter with a good book while sipping tea or hot chocolate. It’s especially soothing on rainy and snowy days.

Sarah Hemphill:

One of my favorite grounding activities comes from working with high-mortality populations. A Death Midwife once told me that when caring for the dead and dying it is important to remind yourself that YOU are still alive and breathing. I think this also applies to so many other states–when working with trauma it is important to remember that I am not the one in crisis, with deep suffering am not the one in pain. So, when the work feels intense, I make a point to go to a bathroom, put my palms on either side of the sink and look in the mirror. I will look myself in the eyes and say “Hey, you’re alive. You’re here right now, you’re not_____  (fill in the blank). You are going to go home tonight to your life, your dinner, and your dog.”  Then, I wash my hands and go back to whatever I was doing as myself. It seems obvious, but somehow making it spoken makes a huge difference.

Betsy Duke:

The sailing imagery used above comes from my own personal therapist, who was the first person to point out how important it is to have a trustworthy tether and a “rite” to reinforce it when things become chaotic. My anchoring rituals are constantly changing depending on what it is I’m working on and need help holding onto. So I follow a pattern, but the ritual itself always looks different.

I needed a bit of guidance to find what worked for me and I often use the following steps to help me personalize an anchoring ceremony:

  • Notice what makes you feel most like yourself, and what/where do you feel most trusting of your own feet.
  • Hone in on an element of that, and do something to draw it into yourself.
  • Create/find a touchstone to represent the process.

OR

  • Notice a feeling or experience that’s altered you in some way, one that you want to hold onto.
  • Locate an element that represents that feeling or experience (for example, if you experience something that makes you feel expansive, an element of that could be a wave, the ocean, the sky, or stars)

Make that element a part of your daily experience (for example, make the background on your phone the ocean, or a constellation; make a necklace that has a wave on it, carry a cotton ball with you (cloud, get it? Lol), draw out the sky on your mirror, or place post-its with the word “EXPANSIVENESS” all over things you interact with most regularly. These reminders can help keep you in touch with your deeper self.

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About Elizabeth Duke, Psy.D.

Elizabeth Duke joined the LifeWorks Psychotherapy team in July 2015. She has been trained as an Equine Assisted Psychotherapist and also has had a therapy dog. Clients who are experiencing depression, loss, or long standing difficulties in relationships sometimes find a therapy animal can offer a unique channel of healing that may not require words. Elizabeth is a member of the American Psychological Association; Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology; Division 44, Society for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues; and Kink & Poly Aware Chicago Therapists (KPACT).

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