I’m going to cover the techniques I use to ground myself when I’m having a rough day, or am feeling anxious. Let’s face it, there can be times in sobriety when we find ourselves taking things one day at a time (ODAAT), or one hour at a time (OHAAT), or one minute at a time (OMAAT). Sometimes on this journey, we’ll find ourselves logging days in our sobriety tracker apps like it’s no thang! Other days, we wake up and quickly realize keeping the mind in check will be a constant struggle. So here are some of my favorite techniques I use to ground myself, to pull myself back into the body, away from the mind and into the present moment.
- Acknowledge what is happening – Anxiety is great at tricking you into believing that something is real. So all these fear-based thoughts you are having are simply that: thoughts. Thoughts aren’t real. Once you acknowledge this and say “wait a second” I’m not going to die, and in a couple of hours, one or two days tops, this will all be fine.”
- Think in terms of we. Which of these two sentences sound better – 1. I am struggling right now. 2. We are struggling right now. Most of us orientate our thoughts to the individual self, but science is showing, we receive a great benefit when we think of terms of “we” which isn’t a lie because we are all connected. It’s totally fine to struggle on this journey, but there is no need to struggle alone.
- Take your shoes off and walk outside barefooted. This is literally called grounding or earthing. You, all people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects are electrical beings living in an electrical world. Everything that’s made of atoms (so…everything) has a net charge that’s either positive, negative, or neutral. Grounding means discharging built-up static electricity either directly into the earth. The earth has a negative charge, and you have a positive charge. Walking barefooted in grass, or on the beach allows you to release an excess of unbalanced energy. If you’re pacing back and forth with anxiety, do it outside without shoes. You’ll instantly start to feel better. There are several books written on this topic that shed light on why earthing is so powerful!
- Usually, when we find ourselves spinning out, we’re moving too fast. We’re rushing through the day seeking ways to mitigate inner turmoil, but we’re going to fast to find what we’re looking for. As Jane Wagner would say, “for fast-acting relief, slow down.” Usually, when we are in this perpetual “crazed” state, all tasks are done as a means to an end and little quality or presence is attached to any duties. I always tell myself, if you want to get somewhere fast, go slow. When I encounter a flight of stairs, I make a point to climb or descend the staircase slowly, making conscious contact with each stair. When I park my car, I wait till I see the clouds moving before exiting the vehicle.
- Do not multitask – Studies show that human beings are terrible at multitasking. If you find yourself talking at the phone, and sending an email or text at the same time, most likely you’re not doing any of these tasks well.
- You are nature, so take a time out, and go be in your natural setting. Ideally, pick a location with a soundtrack such as a stream, birds chirping, or the sound of the wind in the trees. Ideally, I try to go for a hike or walk in nature without shoes. Almost all of these grounding techniques can be done in tandem!
- When I’m not feeling grounded, I start paying close attention to where this feeling is located in the body, more specifically in the stomach and solar plexus area. Almost always, I recognize this region is tensed up and tight. When I feel anxious, I notice my stomach muscles are always flexed, and my breathing becomes shallow. Once I’m aware of this, I can start breathing from the belly and relaxation sets in.
- Stop saying I CAN do this, because you ARE doing this. It doesn’t matter where you currently find yourself on this journey into sobriety, you ARE doing this!
- Go with the gut. 11 billion bits of information bombard your energy field every millisecond and most report to the gut area and not your head. Always trust the gut/intuition on where to go next, even if it seems like a 180 from what the mind is saying.
- I tell myself “this isn’t me.” A couple of months ago, I found myself unable to fall back asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop going. It was frustrating and I deeply needed sleep since I had a busy day ahead of me. After about 30 minutes of the mind trying to solve every problem on the planet, I finally said, “Paul, this isn’t you.” and within a matter of minutes, I was asleep. As Michael Singer says in “The Untethered Soul.” you are not the voice inside the head, but the one who hears it!
These grounding techniques are highly effective when the edge of life is sharp, or when we experience a craving to drink alcohol. I encourage you to practice these before an emotional rollercoaster arrives so you’re better prepared to ride out the uncomfortable feelings or cravings. Let me know in the comments what helps you get grounded.