“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” ~Steve Goodier
Sometimes my head is in the clouds on a massive scale.
This isn't always a bad thing for me. When I am blissfully ignorant of reality, it can feel beautiful and exhilarating—shiny, I call it. It can be a welcome respite from the days when life feels dark and painfully uncertain.
But this can also be dangerous. When you’re not connected to your body and surrounding environment, you don't have a strong sense of direction or purpose; you're just floating. Also, the smallest thing can distract you and it's difficult to get anything done.
For example, I'm supposed to be editing another article right now, but instead, I'm playing with this one.
Even if you don’t have the same struggles I do, you might be able to relate. When you’re dealing with difficult circumstances and emotions, you may feel unbalanced and even start to shut down a little. It’s all too easy to disconnect from the world when it starts to feel overwhelming.
Let’s face it: the clouds are beautiful, but sometimes it’s helpful to have your feet on the ground.
With this in mind, I’ve come up with a series of grounding techniques that help me reconnect with my body when I'm feeling a little lost:
1. Change the bed sheets.
This requires a significant amount of concentration, otherwise I end up with funny shapes for bed covers. Not only that, the activity is a tactile experience; the sheets are clean so they smell gorgeous, and if you use softener the fabric is great to handle.
Nothing makes me feel happier and more down-to-earth than changing my sheets. Unless, of course, my cat joins in with the fun and plays hide and seek under the bottom sheet with me.
2. Dance and/or sing.
I have a couple of albums that I slap on when I’m in the need for some feel-good time. The Cranberries album ‘Stars’ is on the top of my happiness pile at the moment (and also what I’m listening to as I write this).
Even though I can’t carry a tune to save my life or bust a worthy move, this album gets me in the mood for relaxing and helps me come down from previously incalculable heights.
Since going on a diet last year, I’ve found that I’ve stopped eating my discomfort and started cooking it instead. Okay, so I still eat a bit of it (because the things I bake need to be tasted of course…) but it’s not the eating part that makes me feel good anymore; it’s the creating part.
I bake from scratch—none of this packet stuff. I put all of myself into making a decent gingerbread base for the apple pie because I take comfort in the clean, spicy textures and smells of making the dough myself. Like changing bed linen, it’s a tactile activity that grounds you through all of your senses. With delicious results.
4. Take a shower.
This is one of my last-resort grounding methods. I shower regularly anyway but when everything is too much to cope with (shiny or doomy), I lock myself in the bathroom, strip off, and stand under the scalding water until I’ve calmed down.
A hot shower like this is necessary to get things off of my skin—not mud or dirt, but bad thoughts, mad thoughts, misery and stress. A hot shower is the perfect cure for this because it relaxes your tense muscles and literally washes it all off.
5. Walk barefoot.
Shoes are great but they really disconnect you from the earth beneath your feet. Sometimes I walk along the sea wall to stare out at the river for a while. When I get there, I take off my shoes and socks and wander about on the parched earth, on top of the fortification itself, taking care where I tread of course.
It’s a weird comfort to feel the heat from the ground soaking up into your soles, almost like the Earth is saying “Hey! Glad you made it back. You’re gonna be alright, y’know?”
I love this planet. I’m a novice gardener but love to plant flowers, grasses, herbs, and my own vegetables.
It’s not just my own garden that brings me back down to earth either; the surrounding countryside is full of wild flowers and sometimes free food: wild fennel, hairy-bitter cress, wild garlic, chickweed, blackberries, samphire, and nettles.
Gardening helps me breathe and re-appreciate the natural world around me. Sometimes the physical value of getting my hands dirty in the garden makes me hunt down a patch of grass, lay face down and give the Earth a big ‘ol hug for being so awesome.
7. Take a duvet-day.
When I finally realize I’ve vanished from the face of reality and that it’s not going too well, I like to retreat into my duvet—with chocolate.
A tutor at university once said to me that “sometimes nothing helps more than to wrap yourself up in a big fluffy blanket and say to yourself ‘there, there…’” I couldn’t agree more.
8. Break out the paints.
This is one I’d like to use and develop more because, even though I’m not trained, I’m not half-bad. That’s the point of painting and sketching as a grounding technique: you don’t have to be great.
I pick up my A3 pad and willow charcoal and go at it until the chaos inside of me's out on however many pages it takes. Sometimes I produce some good work—an added bonus because I can come back to it and remember when I overcame what I was feeling and turned it into something good.
I tried this at a friend’s recommendation and the benefits were instant. With every glob of cream I rubbed into my skin, I felt reconnected with my body which so often feels unreal and alien to me.
10. This one’s open for you to fill in.
Not because I’m lazy, but because exploration is fun and key to discovering what works for you. It’s a grounding technique in itself.
One final thought: I find that having objects around or with me helps keep me grounded. Whenever I do something fun and relaxing, I make sure that I find an object, like a pebble, or buy something from a gift shop (like my faux-pheasant feather quill) to help remind me of the good times.
I keep these things within reach at all times to touch for positive associations. Then of course I can also touch and connect with the earth because of the different things I do to make my life more tactile and pleasurable.
Photo by Sem Vandekerckhove