“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” ― Steve Goodier
Modern life is hectic. There are multiple demands on our time and attention; work, home, family, friends and those who depend on us, deadlines, exams and homework, birthdays and other anniversaries to remember, social events, networking, and dates. In addition, we are bombarded by social media and the fast paced changes depicted in the news. This clamour for our attention can be overwhelming.
More often than not, the news we hear is pessimistic, designed to heighten anxiety and invoke fear. When we are afraid we move out of the present moment, imagining an unknown future, catastrophising about what might happen, or remembering a negative past event. This leads to anxiety.
Anxiety is a common problem associated with unpleasant symptoms such as a racing heart or palpitations, a sick feeling or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, headaches, pins and needles and dizziness. Many describe feelings of dread, irritability, tiredness or always being on edge.
Anxiety is a product of fear.
Fear comes in many forms and has multiple sources. We fear loss; loss of people, things, status and time. As we have said we often fear the future because it is unknown.
Many people worry about what others think. In terms of abilities in our work, as a parent, and sometimes even our appearance.
We can be fearful of the past, of what we have said or done, or of a traumatic event happening again.
Often we are afraid simply of doing things wrong or not being good enough. You may recognise here the very destructive core belief that many of us carry; that we are not worthy.
The body sensations associated with anxiety are unpleasant, crippling even, and they have repercussions for our physical and mental health. We can feel overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, and not know where to start in terms of action. Such paralysis is paradoxically very energetically expensive and anxiety can precipitate fatigue and burnout.
One way to avoid the negative impact of anxiety is to use the psychotherapeutic tool of Grounding.
Grounding has many different meanings. For some it represents harnessing the electrical charge of the earth to improve wellbeing – nature therapy. In communication it represents finding a consensus or common ground. In electrical terms, ground or earth is the point to which electrical circuits are connected for safety reasons. The earth can absorb large amounts of electrical charge
Our interest, is in its use as a coping strategy; a shift in mindset that uses all our senses to focus us on the present moment and let go of unhelpful, fearful thoughts and anxieties. When we do this, our fight-flight body chemistry is no longer required and so the unpleasant sensations dissipate. Our need to act in an unconscious way can also be relinquished preserving our energy.
When we ground ourselves then we are managing our response to the stressful situation. We use all five of our senses to make us wholly present in this moment and so the grounding technique is a physical mindfulness exercise.
The next time life becomes too much and you feel overwhelmed or anxious
Find a quiet spot, ideally outside
Take off your shoes and socks
Place your feet squarely on the Earth and breathe
Notice the tidal in and out of your breath
Allow your breaths to slow and deep
Feel the tension leaving your body
Imagine tiny roots sprouting from the soles of your feet, reaching down into the earth. They grow and strengthen spreading wide and deep
Now take you attention to your surroundings
What do you Feel?
A prickle from blades of grass on the soles of your feet? The solid cold of a flagstone? The sharpness of gravel? Or the damp softness of sand at the beach? The sunshine on your skin? The whisper of a cool breeze? Or the kiss of raindrops?
What can you See?
The trees and plants or the beautiful place you have chosen? The endlessness of the sea? Your feet planted firmly on earth anchoring you, grounding you?
What do you Hear?
The sounds of birds twittering in the background? The buzzing of insects busy in the foliage? The breeze moving through the trees? Distant traffic noises in the background? The waves crashing against the shore? Or the beat of raindrops on the ground?
Are there any Smells?
Cut grass? Sweet flowers? The sharp smell of the seaside? The freshness of rain?
What can you Taste?
Raindrops on your tongue? A tang of salt?
Know that noticing these things grounds you in the present moment
Understand that you are made of earthly material that is recycled over the millennia, connecting you with every living organism as part of a natural cycle
In this present moment you are free of fear, rooted to and protected by the Earth
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