4 ways to ground yourself when you feel overwhelmed
Autumn is here and what a beautiful season it is. Bright blue skies, crisp mornings and golden leaves falling to the ground make it the perfect time of year to consider our connection to our roots and where we came from.
Which I really don’t want to do.
I would rather run away. Preferably somewhere hot.
I have a tendency to want to flee – my response to an almost ever-present urge to fight or flight. I do this both literally, by booking flights; and mentally, by escaping to fantasy worlds in my mind that often involve me dancing off into the sunset with a wildly inappropriate lover.
I like the floaty, high feeling you get when you’re untethered and free. Unfortunately it’s not very sustainable or healthy long-term. Plus (and you may relate to this) when I’m not grounded I suffer far more with anxiety and find making life decisions torturous.
Hence, this post.
When you’re doing “inner work” and spend a lot of time in your head thinking and analysing, or if you’re on a path seeking truth (in whatever sense – political, spiritual, personal) sometimes it can be difficult to come back into the physical world. But our little human shaped cluster of atoms exist in a physical realm and tend to them we must.
Here are a couple of ideas on how to do that – with thanks to the beautiful Jess from 100% Natural for pointing me towards many of them.
Cook with root vegetables
‘Disconnection from the body is a cultural epidemic. We often over or under eat, deprive ourselves of sleep and function on artificial stimulants to keep up with the demands of a faster society. Of all the losses rupturing the human soul today, this alienation is especially damaging because it separates us from the very roots of existence; our grounding. It has become all too easy to lose our dynamic connection with our body, but by listening and eating from within we can begin to unlock the true power of our bodies and minds.’
— Kimberley Parsons in ‘The Yoga Kitchen’
There are some gorgeous grounding recipes in Kimberley’s book. Sweet potato scones, anyone? Or Masala Chai carrot cake (*drooling*)?
She includes grounding ingredients like root vegetables, earthy foods and plant based proteins in her recipes. Jess suggests chicken soup or bone broth, root vegetables, ghee and spices. All great foods to eat when a sense of belonging or community is needed in your life.
When you need to find your sanctuary, to anchor back to your roots and be reminded of your home, ingredients that come from the earth are brilliant.
I’ve been making some lovely soups recently, something I find incredibly soothing to both cook and consume (preferably with a massive hunk of bread and butter). I’ll be trying the recipe for sweet potato, ginger, tamarin and maple soup from The Yoga Kitchen this weekend.
Spend time in nature
If this seems obvious, it’s because it is – and SO important. Living in cities with so much light and sound pollution, busy roads and the constant thrum of people rushing around, it can be challenging to find time to disconnect from technology and get out of our heads.
Honestly, I go a little insane if I don’t get out for a walk in nature everyday. My thoughts race and problems seem insurmountable until I stop for a second to notice the sound of water running down a hill, the sight of a flock of birds in the sky or the changing colours of the leaves. Nature therapy is REAL.
Of course you can take your walk in nature a step further and have some special time with a tree or two. Jess says:
‘Lean against a tree to feel it supporting you. Direct your attention to your breath entering your body through your feet, imagining roots connecting you to the earth’s core.’
If you can handle a little chill or moisture, take your shoes off and feel your weight on your feet as they sink into the earth. Mmmm, yummy.
If you think this sort of thing is a bit tree-hugging-hippy-weirdo, it IS! But if feels great, so leave your ego with your MacBook and get outside to commune with nature.
Have baths in epsom salts and rose
I’m obsessed with baths and need no excuse to luxuriate in the tub. So the thought of adding rose oil (or even petals) to a lovely detoxing bath has me really quite excited. Twenty minutes in a bath with epsom salts relieves muscle tension, pain, and inflammation in joints, alleviate tension headaches or soothe abdominal cramps.
Rose is a flower I’ve heard a lot of people saying recently they are “called to work with”. Now yes, I’ll admit that part of me is like COME ON. But then the more open-minded, nicer and happier me is like, YEAH! Feel the call, listen to what the plants are telling us!
Even if you don’t think the plants are talking to us (and why not, hhhmmm?) you might be convinced to give it a try in times of stress or when feeling overwhelming emotions. With the highest vibrational frequency of any oil, rose helps to open your heart and soul to connection and love and so is brilliant when dealing with fear, stress or hard-heartedness. I’ve been a little heart-broken recently and so have been adding rose essential oil to my bath for some extra healing vibezzzzzz. Such a delight.
Chant ‘Om Manu Padme Hum’
Man, I used to think chanting was SO weird. Now I bloody love it. Getting my chant on makes me feel so much better than any drug I’ve taken. Honestly, if I had an invitation to a party or a chanting circle, I’d be in that circle faster than you could say Om Manu Padme Hum.
ANYWAY, this chant is suggested by Jess and, though it’s one of the most famous Buddhist and Hindu chants in the world, it’s fairly new to me.
Apparently it translates roughly to: I honor the jewel within the lotus bloom and is a metaphor representative of honoring the divinity within yourself and within everyone and everything. Beautiful ey? You are the lotus bloom, my friend. The jewel within is the divinity and enlightened compassion of Buddhahood.
I like to listen to chants on YouTube to get some good vibes in my ears while I’m working (particualryl when I’m feeling a lot of worry or fear). So I’d suggest this is a nice place to start if you think chanting is a bit OUT THERE MAN yet would like some balancing vibes.
Drink Pau D’Arco tea
Another one from Jess that has BLOWN. MY. MIND.
Wow, there are a lot of health benefits to this tea. The bark comes from a tree in South America and research shows it can help strengthen the body’s immune system, reduces pain in cancer sufferers, fights candida, reduces inflammation, detoxifies the body and provides anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
Make sure you buy tea that uses the inner bark as that has the medicinal properties and doesn’t damage the tea. Is anything more grounding than tea made from the bark of a strong and ancient tree?
Other grounding teas to consider are dandelion root, cinnamon, licorice, turmeric, fennel seeds and cardamom. I could do a whole separate post on the amazing healing properties of tea and how the very ritual of brewing, serving and drinking tea is grounding in itself – watch this space if you’d like to learn more.
You know what? As much as I like getting all high and floaty and letting my mind and ideas float up to the clouds, grounding energy feels good. It feels strong. It feels stable. It feels like taking care – and that is needed. Especially when a lot of modern life seems to be about serving other people’s needs and agendas.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, be gentle and trust that you know what you need.