Grounding and centering yourself is super important in times of change and intensity. It helps you to deal with stuff with more grace and clarity, essential to holding yourself steady through wobbly times.
If you’re standing strong and rooted, it’ll be much harder to topple you, in all senses of the word!
I definitely learned this the hard way (i.e. a lot of humble pie eating, unnecessary conflicts etc. – it’s the fiery dragon in me, I have to own it!). High five if you’re also in the learn-the-hard-way camp by the way, you’re so not alone. As an empath and HSP, it’s already innate for us to feel deeply. But when I’m off centre, I get really carried away by my emotions. All obligations and concerns take a backseat as I feel almost incapable of directing my day or focusing on essential tasks. So what happens when you feel like you’re spiraling, struggling to pull yourself back?
Here are some ways to know you’re ungrounded or uncentered:
- You find it hard to focus on any one task or to stay on it for long periods of time. 20 minutes of concentration on a task seems almost impossible
- You skip from one task to another without completing any
- Fantasizing – you’re constantly daydreaming about fantastic scenarios that bring you away from your reality
- You’re never present; either ruminating about the past or projecting into the future
- You’re in a constant state of dissatisfaction; you’re not where you think you need to be yet, so you’re constantly in judgmental mode or indulging in negative self-talk
- You get easily caught up in other people’s emotions and dramas
How to ground and centre yourself:
- Start your day off right. In times of stress, guess what’s the first thing I do when I wake up? I check my phone. And immediately, I snap into this panic-anxiety mode where I feel like I need to solve problems and reply to texts straight away. And this mood tends to carry over into the rest of day. So now, since I’ve been doing the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’ve been taking her advice and doing the morning pages, which is 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. I keep a notepad and pen by the side of my bed so I don’t even need to get out of bed to do this. But if you aren’t into writing – even taking just ONE mindful breath before you leap into your day really helps. It helps you to bring yourself back to you. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from yoga, it’s that breath is everything. Breath connects us back to our essential selves, and is basically the building block of meditation. Even if you’re not into yoga or meditation, taking one deep cleansing breath is a great way to get the oxygen flowing in your body, and to wake up your senses before taking on the day.
- Limit activities that take you away from your present moment. This might be scrolling through social media feeds incessantly, binge-watching Netflix all the time, checking gossip sites constantly etc. For me, this was my Instagram feed. There are so many inspirational people and sites that I adore, with all kinds of communities on IG that I follow and that really feed my imagination. However, I found that I was checking it way more than 5 – 10 times a day. And each time, a tiny ping of emotion would register in my subconscious – from envy, to amusement, to joy, you name it. These act as little hits of stimulation that took me away from my present and overstimulated me at the same time, causing me to either a. fantasize or b. engage in thoughts like ‘Oh I wish I did that!’ or ‘Maybe I can do this‘ etc. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it when it’s a focused activity and you KNOW you’re actively, consciously seeking inspiration in the moment. But I found this to be a problem when it became a habit; a filler activity when I found myself bored for even just ONE second. I now try to check my feed only 2 – 3 times a day and remain conscious when I’m doing so, which means no more mindless scrolling! And immediately, my senses thanked me for it, resulting in a much more sustainable state of calm.
Rootedness. I really like The Wild Unknown’s deck interpretation of the Emperor card: a tall, strong, rooted tree. What do you think of when you picture an emperor? Someone sitting squarely on his throne, confident, stately and powerful. All these attributes come from being firmly grounded. So picture yourself as this strong tree, with roots stretching as far down as its branches reach up towards the sky, an unmoving foundation upon which you build your dreams.
- Take time out in nature. Feel the grass or sand beneath your toes. Feel the wind in your hair, smell the scent of freshly cut grass, gaze at the trees. Imagine yourself having roots extending into the earth. Especially for those of us who live in cities and high-rises, this is especially important. Our connection to the earth and nature cannot be neglected. When I neglect to do this, I am one grumpy lady. I need to take a walk in nature every single day, even if it’s to a tiny park nearby or to just sit by the river for a moment.
- Be in your body. Sensitive people are often in their heads, taking in stimulus and pondering our deep, deep thoughts… More than once, people have asked me, ‘How can I get you to relax?!’ and I laugh, because that’s when I know I’ve been in my head too much and my brows are furrowed and I’m probably pondering something existential and way too deep for an average Monday morning. One sure way to get grounded quick is to be in your body. Exercise and move in any way that you like – walking counts too. Take a 20 minute walk. Sweat a little. Yoga is my favourite way to do this – try Flow or Vinyasa classes if Hatha classes are too slow for you (it is for me; my mind tends to drift away and I lose my focus.)
- Limit stimulants. That means (sob!) no sugar for me. Someone was impressed recently when I said I don’t drink, smoke, or even drink coffee. And he was like, c’mon, you gotta have one vice! And I said ‘sugar’, because it truly is. But over time, this has gotten easier – unsweetened tea, no candy, no juices. I value my calm too much. And whenever I do indulge, I pay dearly for it – I’ve found that stimulants make my body feel out of control, and so sugar and caffeine have had to go!
What are some of the ways you keep yourself grounded? I would love to hear from you!