5 Simple Grounding Exercises to Ease Anxiety & the Stress of Daily Life.
Life is busy.
Let’s face it, managing home, work, and family obligations is overwhelming and feels endless. We tirelessly manage to get through the day by ticking the boxes of our “to do” list until we eventually crawl into bed—only to do it all over again the next day.
This type of lifestyle can cause us a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress. Our bodies are constantly in a state of “fight or flight,” and we are maxing out our adrenal glands. This type of stress not only causes anxiety, but also insomnia, weight gain, heart issues, and high blood pressure.
Grounding is a technique that bring people back to the present moment when they are in the midst of chaos. Grounding skills can be helpful with managing feelings of intense anxiety and can help people regain their mental focus after a traumatic event or anxiety-induced state.
There are many proven ways to ground yourself. If you are in the midst of an anxiety attack and need to get “grounded,” you can start by counting backward, either in your mind or out loud; this is actually a mental distraction, and therefore, takes the focus off the anxiety.
Another wonderful and successful technique is to look around the room and name what you see: lamp, table, picture of my kids, five pens in a pencil holder, painting with a horse and a tree…whatever it is you see, call it out. This helps ground you in the present moment.
Some grounding techniques are actually referred to as “earthing”—and like the name suggests, you literally become one with the earth by putting your body in direct, uninterrupted contact with the earth. This exercise requires that your skin touch the soil, sand, water, or a conductive surface that is in contact with the earth.
This can be mean dipping your toes in the sand at the beach, walking in nature, going for a hike deep in the forest, swimming in a lake or the ocean, planting seeds (or replanting flowers) and digging in the dirt, or just walking through the grass barefoot. Earthing has a tremendous amount of health benefits—too many to mention in this article, so I empower you to google “earthing” and “grounding.”
Here’s a list of my favorite grounding activities (more than one involves earthing):
1. Walking or hiking.
Walking is the simplest and most effective way to reduce anxiety. Walking at an even pace has a very calming effect. It can evoke mindfulness, clear your head of rapidly cycling thoughts, and release stress. When walking (or hiking) in nature you will feel more relaxed during the walk. You can also take it one step further and meditate while you walk. Walks on the beach are amazingly therapeutic as well. The salt air and calming sound of the ocean is very grounding.
Specifically, Hatha yoga, which is the simplest form of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) can be helpful. Yoga is the soul practice of the body, mind, and spirit—and it brings us to a state of mindfulness. This can be done at home, and we can practice for as short or as long a time as we desire. I recommend at least 15 minutes for session length, although 30 minutes is ideal.
Nothing connects you to the earth more than gardening. This is a fantastic example of earthing, as your hands are completely immersed in the soil. It’s such a peaceful and mindful art—and one that has so many benefits.
This keeps us in a state of mindfulness by helping to remove negative thoughts, as well as organizing those distracting, racing thoughts. Getting your thoughts and ideas down on paper will help you clear your mind and enable you to get to a peaceful state quickly. Organizing your thoughts also helps you to set (and ultimately obtain) goals in a more efficient way.
Being creative by using your imagination and putting ideas into action is a very grounding activity that also has a beneficial and tangible outcome.
Whatever practice you choose, immerse yourself in it. Bask in the moment of the activity—and when you find that your mind starts to drift and your thoughts beginning to wander, bring yourself back to the moment.
Feel the earth as you put your hands in the dirt; walk across the grass, or stick your toes in the sand. To ground yourself even further, describe how it feels out loud . Describing it makes it feel extra real.
I love walking barefoot in the grass on a chilly summer morning after it has rained and the grass is wet with dew. The feeling is magical and reminds me of childhood. Remember being a child and running through the sprinkler? Wasn’t that magical?
Even as adults, we can create magical moments that make us feel like children again. We feel the wonderment, the joy, and the peace we felt as kids, when we were riding our bikes and the wind blew through our hair—or doing somersaults on a warm summer day with the sun beaming down on us. How about that moment when you take that first lick of an ice cream cone? Yumm.
Those moments are priceless.
We can have those now, as adults—we just need to create them. We live in a world of chaos and instant gratification, so it takes a commitment to ourselves to take a step back and slow things down, so we can enjoy every single moment—because right now is all we have.
So, I empower you to try at least one of these amazing techniques to help ground you and help you live in each moment as it comes. It isn’t easy…but over time, it will become easier.
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina