Despite all the technological wonders of the modern world, many of us find ourselves battling stress, negativity, and distressing thoughts. Whether you chalk it up to the pressure of the workplace or the never-ending news cycle, there’s no doubt that these factors take their toll on mental well-being.
Here’s the upside: we are lucky to have a wealth of resources to help us navigate these challenges, including a technique known as “grounding.” With a bit of ancient wisdom, modern science, and some common sense, we can benefit greatly from grounding exercises, both physically and psychologically.
If you’re not familiar with grounding techniques, this article will cover the basics and offer some practical tips to get started. With these tips and some additional coping strategies, you will be better equipped to deal with feelings of anxiety and other obstacles in the mind.
What is grounding?
Grounding has multiple meanings, ranging from mindfulness meditation to therapy and anxiety disorder treatment. But for our purposes today, we’re talking about a traditional type of grounding that is sometimes referred to as “earthing.”
Grounding is not a mental exercise per se, but rather a holistic technique meant to physically connect you with the earth. The idea reaches back to traditional forms of medicine and spirituality, which taught that making direct physical contact with the earth could have mental and physical benefits.
While grounding might not have as much scientific credence as other forms of modern medicine, there is more than enough real-world evidence to support it. Now that health and wellness teachers are looking for new (and old) ways to help people through non-conventional means, grounding is making a comeback, with many products and methods to explore.
Most importantly, grounding is virtually risk-free as long as you use common sense and focus on the main pillars of health first and foremost. The process is as simple as can be, so why not give it a try?
How does grounding work?
Grounding doesn’t have to be any more complicated than it sounds on paper. Just step out of your home, apartment, or workplace, find a safe and quiet area with natural surfaces, and spend a few minutes walking with bare feet to make direct contact with the ground. You can use any surface that is convenient and available, whether it’s the sandy surf of the beach, the green grass at a park, or the soil in your garden.
The question now becomes — how does grounding actually work? The idea behind the process is that when we make direct contact with the earth, its negative charge neutralizes positive ions and free radicals in the body. Because we’re exposed to so many sources of positive ions through technology and EMFs, it’s increasingly important to spend time grounding outside.
Grounding has been a foundational practice among humans for thousands of years, without ever having to think about it. As we aim to heal our minds and bodies while releasing stress and finding moments for self-care, grounding might be exactly what we need now.
What are the benefits of grounding?
We’ve touched briefly on ideas like ions and charges, but what does grounding actually do for your health and wellness? You may be surprised to discover that such a simple habit can dramatically change the way your body and mind work for the better.
Let’s start with some of the physical benefits that people report from practicing grounding exercises. For starters, grounding can raise energy levels when dealing with fatigue, drowsiness, or feelings of lethargy. Let’s not forget that energy is the most vital component of our physiology, and electrical imbalances in the body can leave us depleted. Even if you’re checking all the boxes of health and wellness, grounding can be the key to tap into that energy you’ve been missing.
Cardiovascular support and heart health are another set of benefits worth looking at. The body is a marvel of biology, but at its core, electrical charges dictate the majority of the involuntary processes that keep things moving along. Nowhere is this more evident than in the heart and cardio systems, which “tick” 24/7 to keep us alive and thriving.
By restoring balance to our electrical charge through grounding, we can enhance blood flow, stabilize heart rate, and improve the way our body feels from the inside out.
From an immunity standpoint, grounding can support many of the internal systems that defend us from invaders like harmful bacteria and viruses. The production of white blood cells, for instance, is supported by healthy electrical charges in the body — exactly what grounding offers. Plus, spending some time picking up microbes from nature, instead of being indoors, can’t hurt either.
Let’s not forget the role of the circadian rhythm with regard to hormone production, sleep-wake cycles, and other biological processes as they relate to the earth’s movement. Our bodies have finely tuned internal clocks which we tend to ignore, but nature doesn’t forget! If you’re struggling to fall asleep or wake up on a consistent schedule, grounding can align you with the natural cycles of the earth and get you back on track with a reliable routine.
With these physical benefits accounted for, we can touch on some mental aspects of grounding as well. Mental well-being and physical health are related, of course, so by addressing the physical side of things first, you can expect some mental improvements as well.
The practice of grounding is well-documented as a stress and anxiety reliever, whether through the reduction of cortisol or the time spent in nature away from artificial sources of stimulation. Additionally, grounding takes you “out of your head” and brings you to the present moment, which is a foundational concept in disciplines like yoga and mindfulness meditation.
Best of all, grounding isn’t complicated, and it takes virtually no effort. With so many ways to get caught up in the hustle of today’s world, grounding gives you the time and space you need to step away and connect with the earth, metaphorically and literally.
How are grounding and mindfulness techniques different?
Whether you deal with panic attacks, anxious thoughts, or flashbacks to negative events, you need a functional toolkit to stay one step ahead of your mind. If you’re already looking into grounding and earthing, you’ve no doubt encountered mindfulness and other methods that can help you in the battle.
While physical grounding techniques have their own set of benefits and applications, mental grounding techniques share many principles. Each can be used to complement one another, and ideally, you’ll be able to balance them both in daily life to overcome the challenges you face.
So, how do physical and mental grounding differ, and what similarities are worth noting?
Physical grounding is focused on physical sensations, balancing the electrical charge in the body, and changing your surroundings to get some much-needed perspective on life or a particular situation. As we’ve discussed, this can help align the body with the energy of the earth and calm the nervous system and mind.
Meanwhile, mindfulness is internally focused, with an emphasis on breathing techniques, body scans, and visualization. For instance, breathing exercises, like taking deep breaths, as well as talking to a loved one, or listening to your favorite song, can counteract the “fight or flight” response, which often accompanies feelings of anxiety or stress.
If you can make time for a mix of both grounding in the physical and mental realms, you’ll build a powerful arsenal to push back against negative thoughts while taking care of your body as well.
What are some simple grounding techniques to help with anxiety?
Grounding sounds simple enough — just get outside and spend some time connecting with the earth’s surface. However, for busy professionals, family leaders, and others with packed schedules, this is easier said than done. So, what are some practical grounding activities you can start implementing today? Let’s look at five examples to set the stage and offer some inspiration.
1. Walk barefoot through grass
Even if you live in a crowded city and work a high-pressure 9-to-5, you can reasonably carve out some time in your week to walk barefoot in the grass. Even New York City, the metropolis with more than 10 million people, has well-maintained parks where you can slip off your shoes and take a casual stroll for grounding benefits.
By walking barefoot, you not only balance your internal electrical charge, but you also get the locomotive benefits of walking. With this approach you can get your steps in, enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, all while connecting with the earth and getting the upsides of grounding.
2. Use a grounding mat
To really reap the benefits of grounding, you should aim to practice it every day. Even if you have access to outdoor areas near you, you may not have the time or extra energy to dedicate to grounding in a designated area. That’s where grounding mats come into play, offering a chance to ground in the comfort of your own home thanks to a simple tech solution.
Grounding mats work by plugging into wall outlets that are already designed to be grounded with the earth for stability and safety. By connecting to that source through a dedicated outlet, you can tap into those negative ions directly and enjoy all the advantages of grounding — even if your home is many stories up.
Grounding mats are easy to set up and offer the convenience of anytime use. You can enjoy your morning coffee while sitting on a grounding mat, energizing yourself for the day ahead. When evening comes, you can chill out on the mat and prepare for a night of deep, restful sleep.
3. Lay on the ground
While a barefoot walk is the go-to beginner’s grounding method, laying on the ground is a more comprehensive way to absorb ions and balance your internal electrical circuitry. This method offers the chance to combine other mindfulness methods, whether that’s visualization, body scanning, or deep breathing.
Even if you live in a region with harsh winters, you can get out into nature and lay on the ground while fully bundled up. Kids wait all year to make angels in the snow, so why can’t you do the same? This is an opportunity to embrace your inner youthful spirit and connect with nature no matter what the seasons have in store.
4. Try gardening
Gardening is a great way to get in touch with nature, offering benefits like sun exposure, relaxation, and mild mental stimulation. You may not think you have a green thumb, but have you ever made an honest attempt at growing plants or vegetables for a whole season?
Plus, you don’t even need to have your own garden to try your hand at this popular pastime. Community gardens are found in cities everywhere, and you can even start with simple houseplants and herbs to the possibilities unfold.
5. Go for a barefoot beach run
The beach is one of the best places you can be, from body and mind to spirit and soul. From the minerals found in the sand and seawater to the vitamin D exposure from the sun, this is the ultimate grounding experience on every level. Don’t worry about setting a record pace or sprinting hard — this is all about taking your time and enjoying the moment.
Barefoot beach runs allow you to go at your own pace and bask in the natural soothing ambiance of the shoreline. You can even splash through the water to further enhance the benefits of grounding and feel the cool refreshment of the waves.
The bottom line
Grounding is a long-standing practice that makes perfect sense when you put the pieces together. While there’s no getting around the realities of modern living, you can always return to the earth and connect with nature on a visceral level.
As always, Sunmed is here to help you discover a new realm of wellness, from high-quality hemp extracts and skin care products to guidance and scientific insights. As you embark on the lifelong journey of health, learn to fall in love with grounding and discover the transformative benefits for yourself.