Why it’s important to ground yourself
Do you often find yourself to be restless, easily distracted and unable to focus? Have the tendency to live too much in your head and have trouble being present in the moment?
If the answer to these questions is a yes, you could benefit a lot by grounding yourself. Now in case you are wondering, what exactly do I mean by grounding yourself?
What it means to be grounded
Think about the last time you felt relaxed, present and completely at ease. Well, that’s what it feels like to be grounded. Grounding yourself means to engage in activities that help you to relax and bring you into the present moment.
When we are ungrounded, we feel out of sorts, and it becomes difficult to focus. Some commons signs or symptoms of being ungrounded may include feeling
Overwhelmed or over-stimulated
Jumpy and can’t seem to sit still
A sense of rushing or hurriedness
Our thoughts and emotions are linked to our breathing patterns. Therefore one of the simplest indicators to know whether you are grounded is to notice the rhythm of your breathing.
When we are grounded, our breathing tends to be slow and deep, which has a calming effect on our mind. Whereas when we are ungrounded, our breathing tends to be shallow, erratic and fast, which tends to make us feel uneasy.
Obstacles to staying grounded
Other common obstacles to staying grounded include multi-tasking, inadequate sleep, compulsive phone usage, constant beeping of notifications, all of which can distract us or make us feel over-stimulated.
Why bother to ground yourself
When our caveman ancestors were faced with a stressful or frightening situation like a tiger in the wild, their body would enter into something known as “fight or flight mode.”
This in-built mechanism would help them to stay and fight or flee from danger by bringing about several changes in the body like,
Speeding up heart rate and breathing to increase the oxygen and blood going to the muscles.
Tightening the muscles to be ready for use if needed.
Shut down bodily functions that aren't immediately important, like digestion.
Release adrenaline, to give energy.
Release cortisol, to relieve pain (this could also have the effect of blocking rational thinking)
Now in our modern world, stressful situations don’t usually involve coming in contact with a tiger in the wild. Yet even to this day when we feel stressed or anxious (ungrounded) our body still functions like it did during the time of our caveman ancestors.
Since we are not usually under any physical danger that requires us to fight or flee, having our blood pressure and heart rate rise isn’t helpful to function calmly or effectively, especially since this can also impair our ability for rational thinking.
Moreover, the fight-or-flight response can even be activated merely by our thinking of a stressful situation or by seeing something triggering on the news or social media.
All of these factors make it important to ground ourselves to think and function effectively in our daily lives.
10 ways to ground yourself
Maintaining a steady flow of breathing is one of the central aspects to being grounded.
When you feel scattered, take a couple of minutes to place your hand on your belly, and focus all your attention on your hand moving as your belly expands and contracts as you breathe in and out.
Doing this will shift your attention from your thoughts and emotions and help make your breathing slower and deeper ( try it out now and see how it feels).
If you are feeling highly stressed or anxious it may be more effective to spend 5-10 minutes doing conscious deep breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 technique which involves breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 7 counts and exhaling for 8 counts.
Also making it a point to consciously breathe deeper (from your diaphragm) when you notice your breathing is shallow and erratic will help your mind become calmer.
Practising meditation has considerably improved my mental clarity and focus and helped me to feel more grounded in my life than probably any other activity.
It has significantly reduced the number of unhelpful thoughts in my mind, and helped me to become more present in my daily life.
It has also allowed me to slow down and savour life without the urge to be always doing something or require constant stimulation.
ALSO READ: 4 Easy Ways By Which Anyone Can Meditate
Journaling is a method I use every now and then to ground myself when I am feeling scattered.
I find that when I write about something that’s bothering me, the intensity of my thoughts and feelings begin to lose their tight hold over me and helps me to become more focused and present.
ALSO READ: A Complete Guide To Journaling
Listen to music
Studies have shown that listening to relaxing music with a slow tempo can lower your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure when you feel stressed.
Listening to music can help us to get out of being stuck in our head when we have racing thoughts or negative thought patterns playing in our head.
(Here’s a piece of music that almost instantly makes me feel relaxed)
Take long baths
Taking a long bath is an easy way to calm and relax yourself when you are feeling ungrounded. There is something therapeutic about having a long bath that helps you clear yourself of nagging thoughts and give a nice little mood boost.
Take breaks / Take time to do nothing
Taking breaks or taking some time to do nothing during the day helps to relax our mind and ensure that we don’t feel over stimulated.
Spend some time by yourself where you set aside your electronic devices and have no agenda or any tasks to perform.
Being seated for long periods, which is very common in our society, can not only make us feel ungrounded but is also detrimental to our health.
Research has shown that even just one hour of sitting decreases the blood flow from your legs to your heart by 50 percent.
However, by taking a five-minute walk for every hour that you are seated you can offset the negative effects caused by sitting for long periods. Doing this can help boost your energy levels and your attention span.
A lot of the troubles and problems we face in our daily lives arise out of being ungrounded.
Almost all of us could benefit from grounding ourselves more, but only few of us realise how crucial it is and the positive impact it could have on our lives mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
There is a world of difference to the nature of thoughts that pop into our mind when we are feeling grounded as compared to when we are ungrounded.
The good news is that there are always simple steps you can take to ground yourself when you are feeling scattered.
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