Grounding is the healthy feeling you get through mindful awareness. Mindfulness techniques help you get in touch with your own thoughts and reframe what you’re experiencing; the calmer, more lucid feeling afterward is that of grounding.
What does it mean to ‘be grounded’?
Trying to keep functional during the furor of daily life, it may feel like your brain’s drifting up in space, or running all over the place. ‘Getting grounded’ is coming down to your own home base, down to the foundation or ‘ground’ of your own experience. It is achieving a sense of stability and awareness of one’s self and one’s own experience.
When you’re grounded, it feels like you’ve quieted the storm fogging up your brain. This relieving feeling occurs through engaging your prefrontal cortex, and decreasing strong signals from your amygdala, the emotional reaction center of the brain.
People can experience this grounded feeling without trying, but during the busy holiday season, you’ll likely need some help. Of the many ways to achieve grounding, mindfulness practice is the most well-researched and practical place to begin.
Why is it important to achieve grounding?
In the chaos of work, family, chores, and self-care, it’s easy to feel dissociated from the present. You might feel caught up in a whirlwind of commuting, attending to family needs, social obligations, and finances.
Through mindfulness, in a grounded state, it’s harder to feel lost and disconnected from the world and and friends.
Mindfulness trains our body not to push troublesome thoughts away, and instead to bring them to the present. By focusing on the present and allowing ourselves to be grounded in what’s going on around us, we create greater harmony between our physical brain and consciousness.
In this way, you can be more attuned to what your needs are and better care for your own mental health during the holiday season.
How can you achieve grounding?
Anything that attunes you better to your five senses can help you get grounded. Simple examples often named in the context of mindfulness would include taking a walk, drinking warm tea, or even listening to music.
During these simple tasks, Dr. Gregg Henriques suggests to “focus on awareness and acceptance” by “expanding one’s attention to one’s inner processes and experiences.” He also suggests that one “learn to observe and accept the streams of thought and experience that run through [one’s] mind.” Anything that helps you focus on the present moment is a good place to begin. There’s no need to stress over where to start or whether you’re doing it right.
Try one of the most well-known grounding techniques, often even recommended in cases of anxiety or panic:
List 5 things you can see. Then, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, and 2 things you can smell. Finally, name 1 thing you can taste.
Even proper breathing and counting can be a form of grounding. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends breathing in a pattern: 4 seconds inhaling, 7 seconds of holding that breath, then 8 seconds of slowly exhaling.
More gradual, long-term grounding techniques are even more helpful.
Regularly practicing yoga or meditation are both very common practices that help one be more attentive of their own surroundings and self.
The self-awareness and self-regulation you develop during yoga or meditation can then be applied during stressful situations. When you’re in a room filled with all your relatives shouting over each other, it’ll be easier for you to keep attached to your own internal monologue.
And regularly maintaining a grounding practice keeps stress from hitting you as badly in the first place. Regular mindfulness practice is associated with reduced activity in the stress center of your brain. By keeping grounded regularly, you can prevent future stress from bugging you as much in the first place.
How can Supportiv help you stay grounded?
Even with these techniques in hand, it’s easy to feel lost, for your emotions to feel frantic and overwhelming. Supportiv can help you stay grounded by always asking you to check in with yourself: “What’s your struggle?”
By sorting out your feelings in realtime, with nonjudgemental people, you ground yourself and open yourself to a community that will help you work through any personal issue.
Written by: Angie Won