« Grounding Technique for Anxiety & Dissociation | Main | Using Simple Acts to Calm Your Mind »

Dissociation and Anxiety: How to Get Back in Touch When Anxiety Leaves You Feeling Disconnected


In this week's podcast, we discuss a question sent in by a listener: How do I stop myself dissociating? It happens so fast I have no time to stop it.

Dissociation is that awful feeling of disconnection that often occurs with anxiety. It's the feeling of not being in touch with your surroundings or the people around you. We all dissociate sometimes when we zone out and retreat into "another world".

We do it when we daydream, and we do it during intense periods of creativity. But dissociation becomes a problem when we feel uncomfortably out of touch.


Points covered in this podcast:

How Does Dissociation Happen? 

Dissociation can occur as a protective state for someone with an overloaded nervous system. It's a way of stepping back and shutting off from further disturbance.


Is dissociation always a bad thing? 

There are times when dissociation is useful, sometimes it is encouraged as a way of recovering from trauma or phobias. In those cases it can be very helpful to step back from when emotional intensity is too strong or painful.


Why does dissociation often happen with anxiety?


Who is most likely to experience this?


How to deal with disassociation and get "back in touch"        

- tips on grounding techniques        

- and the "five things" exercise


Listen to the full podcast here:

Dealing with Dissociation

Good things for prevention are grounding, active exercises: like qigong, tai chi, and yoga. These exercises all encourage mindful movement with full awareness of your breath and body.

Working with self-awareness is the perfect antidote for overcoming the feelings of mounting stress and anxiety that can lead to dissociation. The more you can bring your awareness to your breath, and your feet connecting with the ground and really pay attention to that connection the better.

Mindful walking is another way of doing this, and if you're looking to balance frequent or prolonged spells of disconnection I would recommend practising mindful walking daily for at least 5-10 minutes. If you can make time for a longer practice out in nature that will benefit you greatly.

Techniques that can help:

Anxiety Relief Grounding Exercise: The Grounding Breath

Grounding Technique for Anxiety & Dissociation



PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

Dissociation has been a lifelong struggle for me. I am not sure how it came about other than being a shy and sensitive child who was prone being picked on and made fun of. I soon developed very low self esteem and lost faith in myself. I had only a couple "friends" and it wasn't happy friendship like children should have. It was more like being bullied by someone, but they let you hang out with them. My parents (who were/are saints) tried their best to help me, and took me to a psychologist who diagnosed me with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. By the time I was diagnose, the condition has already made my young life a living hell. I used OCD as a way of dealing with my anxiety, a way to control my fear. However, OCD soon took on a life of its own, and I was secretly performing rituals that did not make any sense, but I felt complled to do i.e., something bad would happen if I did not say a word 13 times in my head. Looking back it doesn't surprise me that with all this going on inside myself (secretly) that I had trouble making connections with friends that I deeply longed for. Not sure if that was the reason I retreated into day dreams, that soon became addictive, and more fulfilling than real life. I would walk around my neighborhood as a teenager making up stories in my head listening to music on my walkman for hours. I still slip into day dreams, usually talking to someone in my head. I know no one is there, it is just a way to stay distracted. Many of the stories, involved me being some kind of hero. Hell to be honest I did the same thing last night when I went for a run using my ipod. I have my "maladaptive day dreaming" much more under control then I use to, however it still has a presence in my life.

However, I will soon be turning 40 and I feel that I have missed many decades of connecting with people, and a chance at a normal happy life due to this condition. I have been reading up on mindfulness meditation with hopes of breaking free of this numbing/ soul stealing condition.

I am open to whatever therapy or help will get me over this hurdle, because I genuinely wish to make friends, and connections with people. I want to be ale to to trust myself and not live any more years the way I have in the past.


July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.