Five practices for a more grounded sense of self

Do you find that your thoughts are scattered and your environment is in chaos? Do you feel like you can’t put together the words to express your emotions or desires? Are you having trouble settling obsessions around a certain problem, or even your own self-image? Perhaps you feel like you’re floating through life, a ghost in a world that’s passing by you – all head, no body.
There are many ways to practice grounding, such as eating root vegetables, doing yoga, or camping out in the mountains. In fact, one of the most recommended ways to ground yourself is to get professional help through therapy, although this can be costly and may not be accessible to some.

By implementing these simple grounding techniques into your personal life, you will find it easier to ditch those obsessive, anxiety-inducing thoughts and see things from a calmer, simpler perspective. Grounding is a key tool in learning to love yourself, trust yourself, and be confident in your decisions. It helps to elevate mood, reduce emotional stress, and focus on what’s important in your life. Don’t believe me? Luckily, these five habits are so simple and easy to incorporate into your daily life, you have no excuse not to try them!

  1. Meditate

And no, I don’t mean lay in your bed when your alarm goes off in the early morning. Yeah, yeah, I know your tricks! The alarm goes off at 7 AM and you tell yourself that this would be the perfect time to do some meditating – suddenly it’s 8:30 AM and you’re rushing out of the door with a piece of toast in your mouth because you accidentally fell asleep!

At the same time, meditating doesn’t always have to mean sitting in total silence with a still mind, your breath following the strict instructions of “breathe in deep through the nose, out through the mouth.” While that may be effective for some people, the beauty of meditating is it is specific to each person and what helps to still their mind. Thich Nhat Hanh said it best when he advised to simply be aware of your breath. Your breath is a sign that you are alive. Do not interfere with your breath if you don’t have to, just be mindful of it. While breathing in (no matter the duration), tell yourself, “This is my in-breath,” and while breathing out, “This is my out-breath.” By doing so, your mind will naturally still and focus on the fact that you are alive and breathing (For more on breathing, check out You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh). The gratitude that comes with that is priceless and extremely grounding.

Sit up tall in the library, lay down in grass, whatever makes you the most comfortable, whenever you want. And yes, your mind will naturally wander because you are a thoughtful being. There is nothing wrong with this, either, as long as you remind yourself as your mind strays, “I am breathing. I am alive. I am here.”

  1. JOURNAL

Journaling doesn’t have to consist of the “Dear Diary…” format. It can be anything from typing in your phone notes for a few minutes to sitting down and cranking out three pages stream-of-consciousness. Whatever the case may be, it can be extremely grounding to sit down and let everything just pour out. Any fears or anxieties, anything that bothered you at work, any weird ideas you had throughout the day, let it sit on paper and leave it there. This way, you can remind yourself that it isn’t as pressing as your anxiety may be making it out to be; you can always come back to it.

Words are very powerful – in fact, there is a Japanese word, kotodama, which refers to a belief that words have soul and power. This is why I always advise to end every journaling exercise with some words of gratitude or positivity, to really seal it all in. This allows you to practice the idea that no matter what you wrote (or what your mind is filled with), things will always be okay as long as you have gratitude and remain positive.

Letting yourself physically pour out the thoughts could really help to clear your mind and be in the present moment. I recommend journaling either first thing in the morning or last thing before bed (or both), as a way to start your day grounded and end it, actually end it, before your head hits the pillow and you find yourself wide awake at 3 am thinking about that one conversation (yeah, you’re not alone). And if you do find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night, try journaling then, too!

  1. BE A TREE

This may sound like ridiculous advice, but it is actually my favorite grounding practice. Stretching your body is a great way to ground yourself and be present, as you focus on your body’s movements and follow what feels good to you. It doesn’t have to be yoga, although if it is, that is also a great way to ground yourself.

To be a tree is exactly how it sounds. This can be done outside, barefoot in the grass, or even on a yoga mat or floor. Plant those feet on the ground, picture the roots growing from out of your feet and into the ground beneath you. Once those roots are planted, bring those arms up high and let that back stretch, as if you’re a growing tree. Now breathe as you let yourself grow from above and below. You’ll instantly feel more grounded and even energetic, ready to take on the day!

  1. ESSENTIAL OILS

Aromatherapy is a wonderful way to ground yourself and feel solid in your foundation. This can be incorporated into your meditation, your stretches, even in your sleep! You can buy a diffuser of some sort or rub the oil on your wrist. With some, I like to carry the bottle with me and waft it upwards as I breathe in deeply, whenever I’m feeling stressed.

Some essential oils known for grounding include:

  • Vetiver
  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Patchouli
  • Myrrh
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Rosewood
    And many more!

Just be sure to do your research, as some oils can be harsh on the skin, and some even dangerous for animals when diffused. If possible, try to be mindful of the ethical practices of how these oils are produced, as well as the quality of the oils themselves, as some companies tend to dilute or use unethical practices to create “cheap” and less effective oils.

  1. RETURN TO NATURE

There is nothing more grounding than nature Herself. We are children of the Earth, and just as you may go to a maternal figure to seek comfort, you should return to Mother Earth when possible, not only for a sense of security and oneness, but to show gratitude.

Personally, I always had a very deep connection with trees. I saw them as maternal figures since I was a child, and whenever things get tough, I turn to trees and focus on the wind and sunlight dancing through the leaves to help myself become grounded and to remind myself of where I come from.

Grounding yourself in nature is one of the easiest and oldest practices available. Take a walk in your local park, go to the beach, go on a hike, or even sit in your backyard! Be mindful of the nature that exists around you and the beauty that exists without effort, the beauty that just is. You are a part of that. You are nature. This may be hard for some to understand, since we now seem so removed from Earth due to the technology and hustle and bustle that constantly surrounds us – but there is no deeper connection than the connection between Earth and those who reside.

Breathe in the air that the Earth provides us, let your face soak in the sunlight that She takes in for us…Let your feet cool in the ocean, let the river wash over them. Touch the grass, touch the bark of a tree, watch an animal find food and shelter, listen to the birds and crickets. Just be. Realize that you are part of this beautiful, confusing Universe; you are as important and as much of a part of its destiny as anything else that exists. You exist! And you are here. Never forget that.

Have any grounding techniques that work best for you? Share in the comments below!

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