As you are reading this, I’d like you notice your feet on the ground.
Your back against the chair.
Your breath coming in and out.
Congrats, you just did a grounding exercise. A grounding exercise is a conscious intervention that brings us back to the present, to the here-and-now. To where the body is at this moment.
I love grounding exercises and enjoy helping others develop ones that work for themselves. Personally, I find grounding exercises to be particularly helpful when I hear or read about a disturbing story in the news headlines. Initially, I find myself feeling unsettled, scared, and intellectually struggling what has just happened. But then I ground myself. And while it doesn’t make the sad story go away, it calms down my nervous system and brings my mind back from floating away in worry.
But grounding exercises aren’t just for negative experiences. When done regularly, they can raise the baseline of our emotional home position and translate into feeling better and more connected both to what’s around us and what’s inside of us. Dr. Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist who gave a TED Talk on “power poses”, which are different poses that can supposedly change the way we feel and the message we give off professionally. I think that power poses are a type of grounding exercise in that it involves setting an intention and bringing us back to our bodies.
Our minds are very powerful and yes, telling ourselves to calm down or get over something may work in certain situation. But sometimes a more powerful effect can happen not from telling ourselves to relax but giving our bodies the space. When we have an ongoing awareness of ourselves through regular grounding exercises, stressors in our day can feel less derailing, we can feel more empowered to deal with whatever comes our way, and we can feel more connected to what we are really feeling.