Many people today have trouble feeling grounded because of the overwhelming amount of stimuli in modern life. From the moment we wake up, we have constant distractions in the form of pings and dings from our cell phones, kids that need our attention, and job duties to attend to. It doesn’t come as a surprise that mental illnesses have been on the rise for some time now as our brains struggle to keep up with the demands in today’s world.
Grounding involves certain techniques that help to quiet your mind and tune you into the present moment through connection with the five senses. For example, people who have PTSD or panic attacks often feel dissociated or disconnected from their bodies during an episode, which can occur due to flashbacks or a trigger from their immediate environment. Focusing on the here and now through grounding, a form of mindfulness, can ease the distress felt during an attack and help calm your nervous system.
What is grounding?
Grounding, or earthing, involves various techniques that reconnect you to earth’s magnetic energy field which we have been largely cut off from in modern living. Indigenous people connected with the Earth daily by walking barefoot, wearing leather-soled shoes, and living a lifestyle closer to nature in general. However, since we spend most of our time indoors now, we don’t get the benefit of connecting with the electrical currents present in the Earth. Some scientists believe that this disconnection from nature and living in stressful environments contributes greatly to the chronic illnesses and inflammation we see today.
Of course, you can still feel grounded without connecting directly to the Earth, but by definition, grounding involves direct contact with the planet’s surface electrons. Below, we’ll go over some common techniques that will help you get closer to the Earth:
The best way to connect with the planet involves some good old-fashioned walks through nature without shoes on. This will allow you to absorb the Earth’s currents through your feet, which can strengthen the immune system, improve sleep, and help regulate the nervous system. Walking in nature can really help to quiet your mind and boost your mental health as you take a break from stressful city environments.
Lie on the ground.
If you have the afternoon off work, why not spend it lying on the sand at the beach or even just lounging in your backyard? This works well if you have some extra time to spare and want whole-body contact with the Earth instead of just through your feet. We could all use an afternoon to just watch the clouds go by and forget our troubles for a while.
Jump into a body of water.
Water can promote relaxation by giving us a sense of weightlessness and comfort, especially at the beach where the sounds of the waves help calm our overactive nervous systems.
Buy a grounding mat or blankets.
While studies have been relatively small in regards to grounding equipment, some users report better sleep, lower cortisol levels, and even decreased pain after eight weeks of sleeping on a conductive mattress pad.
If you don’t have regular access to nature and don’t want to buy grounding equipment, however, we have a few other options for you to feel more grounded and quiet your mind.
Here are 7 other ways to ground yourself and relax your brain:
Try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
Before you start this exercise, make sure you take long, deep breaths to slow your heart rate and connect you to the present moment. Anxiety can cause a rapid heartbeat and higher cortisol levels due to a perceived threat, so the exercise works best if you can relax your breathing and return to a calmer state. Once you’ve done this, then go through the following steps:
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. No matter how small, just take note of anything in your immediate surroundings, even if it’s a stain on someone’s shirt.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch near you. If you want, you can physically touch them as well. Maybe it’s the Earth beneath your feet, your hair, or a coffee mug.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. Try to focus on sounds outside your body, such as a train outside your window, the birds chirping in a tree nearby, or the sound of someone typing on a keyboard.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Does the break room at work smell of coffee? If so, get up from your chair and take a walk to it. Perhaps chatting with someone while you smell the aroma of the coffee can help bring your mind back to the present moment as well.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. If you have a pack of gum, take a piece and notice the flavor in your mouth.
The whole idea of this exercise revolves around getting you to focus your attention on something other than anxious thoughts or memories. Mindfulness can greatly help with anxiety and PTSD symptoms by grounding you to the present moment and helping you to notice sensations in your direct environment.
Move your body.
Many times, we can get lost in our thoughts and forget about our connection with our bodies. In our modern world, we tend to neglect our physical health because we simply don’t need to move as much. We don’t need to hunt or gather our food, we don’t have to travel miles to collect water, and we can either drive or order delivery to get the things we need. So, we’ve created machines and exercise programs to get our bodies moving, but many people still live sedentary lives.
However, moving doesn’t just help your physical health. Numerous studies show how exercise can improve mental health by releasing endorphins and getting you out of your head for a little while. Make sure to choose something you enjoy, such as hiking or biking, so that you can stick with it.
Not only does meditation help to quiet your mind, but it helps you feel more grounded by getting you in tune with your real self, the one beyond your thoughts and emotions. Meditation can even rewire your brain after steady practice by changing the actual structure of the brain and reducing activity in the “me” center, which promotes wandering thoughts. If you don’t regularly practice, you can get started with guided meditations to help you get used to sitting quietly for extended periods of time.
Take a hot bath or shower.
Something about relaxing in the tub after a long day at work or school just melts your troubles away and gets you in a positive state of mind. Add in some Epsom salt or essential oils if you want the added benefit of aromatherapy, and just allow your thoughts to wander. Everyone needs some self-care in their daily routine, and a hot bath or shower can do wonders for helping you destress.
Do a puzzle or adult coloring book.
When did life get so serious? We don’t know either, but bringing out the little kid in us sure helps navigate the heavier parts of life as we get older. Sometimes, you just need a day to forget all the adult worries of the world. If you enjoy puzzles or coloring books, bring them out and let your imagination run wild. Coloring and doing mind exercises such as puzzles helps you focus on one thing for an extended period of time, which can help you tap into the “flow” state.
Make your favorite recipe for dinner.
Nothing puts you in a good frame of mind like a nice, home-cooked meal. If you have a lot on your mind, getting in the kitchen and focusing on preparing nourishing foods you truly enjoy can put you in a whole new frame of mind. Get your kids or spouse to help as well and turn it into a family bonding experience. You can even put your favorite tunes on and totally immerse yourself in the art of cooking a dish that your whole family will love.
Listen to nature sounds.
If you can’t get away from the city, put on some relaxing sounds of waterfalls or rain. Studies have shown that even listening to recordings of nature can lower cortisol levels and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Final thoughts on grounding techniques to quiet your mind
Whether you choose to walk barefoot in nature or have a quiet evening at home with your favorite puzzle or coloring book, plenty of activities can help you feel more grounded. So, let’s suppose that you find yourself in a stressful situation and can’t exit gracefully. Instead, you can try focusing on physical sensations in your environment to get you rooted in the present moment. Meditation, nature sounds, exercise, and a hot bath can also ease your worries and relax your mind.