Life is complex and hectic at times where we can get overwhelmed with excessive “thinking” leaving us “revved up” and lost in our “head space”. This state can leave us disconnected from ourselves and our surroundings. This is usually a sign that our nervous system is disrupted and if not addressed can lead to more complex issues.
It is estimated that the mind thinks between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. Excessive thinking, especially negative or fear provoking thoughts, can trigger our sympathetic nervous system eliciting a stress response in our body. This stress response is also known as “fight or flight”, which can leave us in survival mode for an extended period of time.
If this becomes a habitual pattern, it can tax our adrenal glands, secreting too little or too much stress hormone, cortisol. Over time this can cause several stress related illnesses, such as ulcers, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, chronic back and neck pain, digestive issues, disturbed sleep,anxiety/depression, increased allergies or colds, decreased attention span/brain fog, headache, weight disturbances, menstrual irregularities, and even infertility. Hence the importance of making practices to re-balance your nervous system a priority in your daily routine.
Before you can reduce the negative effects of stress on YOU, it’s a priority to find out what causes your stress or stress response. Grounding and grounding meditation is a simple mindfulness practice that helps you become aware of what’s going on in your body, mind and the environment around you. Rather than resorting to habitual habits of avoiding or obsessing, it allows you to reconnect with your body, staying true to what you are sensing and feeling in the moment, creating space to respond in a healthy way. Grounding and grounding meditation is an effective way to become aware of your stressors as well as a way to cope.
I know I do. I am submerged in the ocean or have my feet in the sand, or hiking in the red rocks soaking up the sun or enjoying the lakes. Often when we're on vacation we spend more time enjoying nature, just being and thinking less.
Chances are you may have heard of “grounding” at some point. Grounding is a practice of re-connecting to yourself (body, senses, and feelings) by connecting to your surroundings, mother nature. It recenters you, creating a state of whole, complete, content, and peace in the present moment. It re-balances your nervous system, bringing you from an anxious fight or flight mindset to a peaceful centeredness.
Before our nervous systems are fully developed, children need the nervous system of their mother or supportive caregiver to co-regulate, bring them back to a regulated state. Eventually we learn to self-regulate, the ability to understand, express, and modulate our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We then develop to be co-regulators for others.
The earth or mother nature is a co-regulator where we can connect to bring us back to a regulated state. Our bodies and the earth have an electromagnetic charge, energy. The body and earth are both composed primarily of water and minerals making great conductors of electricity or energy. Therefore grounding is a simple way to re-balance your body’s energy levels through mother nature.
Grounding restores the body’s natural state. A few of the many benefits include promoting balanced moods, serenity, and a sense of security. An ease in standing your ground and speaking your truth in a calm and loving manner. It promotes awareness and emotional and mental clarity. You may experience physical health benefits such as boosted immunity, decreased muscle tension, and improved overall bodily functioning.
You can practice grounding anytime you think, make it a daily practice or incorporate it into daily meditation. You should or may want to practice grounding anytime you feel off “balanced” or “unaligned”, out of sorts, confused or foggy, emotional, depleted or “revved” up. It’s helpful if you have a project that needs your full attention or focus, before or after a big event, before having a difficult conversation, or when involved in something upsetting.
Grounding can be as simple or complex as you make it! You can practice grounding by surrounding yourself with nature, visualizing nature or through meditation. It can be as simple as standing in the grass for a few minutes (preferably with bare feet). The best way to ground is to surround yourself with nature. Go for a walk in the woods or forest, sit by or lean on a tree, walk in the sand, submerge yourself in a lake or ocean, dig in the dirt or garden, pick some flowers, and eat from the earth. You can also use the power of your imagination to visualize mother nature and yourself, connect with her or engage in a grounding meditation for an even deeper connection.
It’s about coming ‘back to earth’, re-rooting and letting go of anything that no longer serves you. Take a little more time when you first begin a grounding practice, which will get easier and more efficient with time. Enjoy some time outside or the free grounding meditation on my website.
Erin N. Lindberg, OTR/L
Integrative Therapies & Wellness, LLC
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-----THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PERSONALIZED MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT WITH A HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONAL. THE USE OF ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK. -----