What the Heck Does “Grounding” Mean Anyway?
It is week seven of quarantine. We’ve finally fallen into a routine…a bumpy routine, but a routine, nonetheless. I’ve got to be honest with you, there are days when chaos reigns and Mama needs a break. However, the break I seek is fleeting, at best.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before… when the crazy train jumps the rails, it’s time to “get grounded.” This phrase is thrown around all the time, “He’s not grounded, his head is in the clouds.” OR “She needs to get grounded in reality.” That doesn’t sound like very much fun, sort of like clipping the wings of a beautiful bird. Who wants that? More importantly, what does it really mean?
Signs that you are NOT grounded:
- Inability to focus
- Feeling fidgety
- Easily distracted
- Questioning your choices
- Difficulty speaking or communicating
- Feeling disconnected from those you love
- General sense of malaise or lack of passion for anything
- Feeling low-level anxiety with no known cause
If you can check off any of these, you may need a little help with grounding.
Definition of “Grounding”
The electrical engineering version of grounding means connecting an electrical device to the ground, literally.
My dad was a professional electrician for 42 years. I asked him to explain what grounding means.
“Grounding an electrical current is the grounding of the neutral conductors, (white ones), of all building wiring systems. This is done by driving an 8′ x 5/8” diameter copper ground rod into the ground outside, attaching a wire to it, and running that wire through the wall into the house, then attaching it to the neutral bar of the main electrical panel. All the white wires of the wiring system circuits are attached to the neutral bar.”~ Frank Dariano
I’ve never heard him explain that before. I never asked. See what you can still learn from your parents? This is perfectly clear. Basically, grounding is redirecting potentially hazardous electricity away from people in a home or building, to the outside, and into the earth.
Dad also said a lightning rod basically serves the same function: “Both carry harmful current to the ground.”
Most importantly, if the neutral wires short-circuit to any of the ungrounded wires, a fuse will blow. He didn’t say it might blow…he said it WILL blow.
Hmmm… sound familiar?
When the pressure of life is too intense, and we are not grounded, our fuse will blow.
Before this happens, we need to “GET GROUNDED.”
When we’re grounded and the anarchy surrounding us hits the proverbial fan, we are well-equipped to sit calmly amidst the maelstrom…kind of like Nikola Tesla quietly reading a book while 12 million volts of electricity arc dangerously above his head.
Imagine that all those individual sparks of lightening each represent something bothersome in your life…
- Dirty dishes
- Unpaid bills
- Screaming kids
- Homeschooling screaming kids
- Work piling up because you are homeschooling screaming kids
- Et cetera
When they all bubble around you at the same time, you are likely to blow a fuse, yes?
Wouldn’t it be nicer to sit quietly, like Mr. Tesla, not bothered at all by those pesky electrical sparks invading your Zen?
“But, but but,” you say… “How the hell do you DO that?”
Our ancestors practiced grounding in nature on a daily basis, and they never called it “Grounding.” They called it “Living.” Today, the average American spends only 7% of their time outdoors. The good news is people are slowly waking up. Ten to fifteen years ago, people thought this was a “woo-woo” metaphysical or spiritual practice. Thankfully, it has become more mainstream for people to practice grounding.
Studies have proven there are measurable, physiological benefits to the practice of grounding:
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts immune system and promotes healing
- Lowers emotional stress and anxiety
- Enhances mood
- Increases blood circulation
Qualitative evidence of the benefits of grounding:
- Promotes a sense calm
- Increased focus
- Trust our instincts
- Ability to make rational decisions
- Balances our energy, leaving us feeling centered
Grounding means becoming more present in your physical body by connecting to the earth.
Look at the science and it makes sense. Humans carry their own electrical current. Static electricity proves that. Who didn’t shuffle their feet along a carpet as kids, then chase after siblings or friends to shock them? That creates an overproduction of electrons that needs to be released. (It’s even more effective in dry climates…try it, it’s fun!)
The same thing happens when my kids jump on the trampoline and all their hair stands on end.
Bringing that excess energy down from the clouds and into your body can be done in a few easy ways.
Earthing is the most direct way to get connected to the ground by literally walking outside barefoot. It’s that simple. Earthing has been practiced for centuries and is making a strong comeback.
An interesting study showed measurable physiological changes in subjects after they walked barefoot outdoors. They measured quality of sleep, chronic pain, stress & cortisol levels with tangible results in respiratory rates, blood oxygenation, pulse rates, white blood cells and more with positive results. Pretty amazing.
When the body is connected to the earth, electrons are transferred from the earth to the body. It has been known to positively affect everything from arthritis, insomnia and depression.
Don’t want to walk barefoot in the grass?
- Go to the beach and squish your toes in the sand.
- Take your laptop outside and work in the fresh air. Stop typing, look over your screen and notice the birds and squirrels once in a while.
- Pitch a tent in your backyard and sleep on the ground with your kids.
2. Dig in the Dirt
Plant something. Tend to your garden or start a new one. Doesn’t have to be very big. If you don’t have a yard, start a small container garden. Buy a few pots, a small bag of soil and plant seedlings of vegetable plants or flowers. Get your hands in rich soil and have fun!
For Earth Day, we repotted half a dozen houseplants, cleaned up the dead outdoor plants, and planted new seeds for peppers, garlic, daisies, nasturtiums, sunflowers, kitty grass and more. My kids loved it!
Studies have shown that children who garden perform better in school, are calmer, eat healthier, and are more in tune with how we get the food we eat. Tomatoes don’t come from a plastic-covered Styrofoam package at the grocery store. They come from the earth.
Digging in the dirt builds a stronger immune system, naturally. It teaches children responsibility and creates family bonding through teamwork.
When children nurture a plant from seed to bloom, it builds their confidence. My kids get so excited to see those little green ‘sproutlings’ push up through the soil…it’s fulfilling as a parent to witness their pure joy in caring for nature.
3. Step Outside or Bring the Outside In
An excellent way to “ground” which seems obvious, but we often overlook, is to open the doors, step outside and breathe. Take 5 minutes if that’s all you have.
I’ve noticed something during quarantine. In my community, people are out and about, walking, running, biking…more so than I’ve ever seen in the eight years we’ve lived here, and we get out a lot!
On the flip side, others are developing a close relationship with their refrigerators. Half of the population is going to be in the best shape of their lives after quarantine, and the other half is going to pack on the “Covid 10.” Hmmm…
I personally cannot stay cooped up that long… I need to be outside. That in itself is a meditation for me.
Take 30 minutes and go for a walk, alone if you can. No headphones… just listen to the sounds of nature and breathe fresh air.
If you have to work indoors, OPEN YOUR WINDOWS. Even if it’s cold outside. For just a few minutes, open your windows and let the air circulate throughout the house. It will refresh, revive, make you feel less in the clouds and more present with yourself and your family.
4. Take a Walk or a Bike Ride
We ride our bikes daily (weather permitting), after lunch when homeschool is over and the kids are ready for a big dose of physical activity.
If you have a husband or partner that can give you 30 minutes a day, try getting out of the house by yourself. Breathe fresh air, even if the weather is not so great.
Is it sprinkling? Great! Grab an umbrella and go for a walk. The smell of rain is cleansing. Breathe it in. Take huge, deep lungfuls of air. It will clear your mind and your body will thank you.
5. Nature Walk / Scavenger Hunt
If you can’t get outside by yourself, you can take the kids out for a nature walk / scavenger hunt. I made this printable the other day and added a whole new list while we were outside for our next walk! There is room at the bottom to write in your own, or you can add the animals and plant life that can be found in your neck of the woods. We have lizards galore, but you may have more cows, etc.
I actually found this very stress-free. I got to take a lovely, meandering walk and the kids did all the work!
6. Get in Water
Take a bath, shower, or go for a swim. Aside from walking barefoot outside, nothing will reconnect you to the earth like immersing yourself in water. It makes sense that people all over the world flock to oceans, seas and lakes every year for vacation. It’s nature’s cure for multiple ailments, rebalances emotions, and makes us feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to face a new day.
Take a hot shower and imagine the water from the showerhead is washing all your worries down through the bottom of your feet and into the drain, leaving your mind, body and soul squeaky clean!
7. 5-Minute Grounding Meditation
Short on time? Try this easy grounding meditation that can be done anytime, anywhere…on a bus or train, in the bathroom, before your next Zoom meeting, or while the kids are eating lunch.
- Sit in a chair, hands resting comfortably on your lap. No fancy positions needed.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose. Fill your lungs, allow them to expand completely.
- Hold your breath at the top for a count of 4.
- Slowly breath out through your mouth as if you are blowing out through a straw.
- Repeat this sequence 3 times.
- Settle into your normal breath.
- Next, imagine roots extending down your legs, growing out of the bottom of your feet, reaching through the floor, pushing deep into the ground, and spreading out like the roots of a tree.
- You are now grounded to the earth.
Stay here as long as you can. Every time your mind gets distracted, refocus on the natural in and out rhythm of your breath. If you have time and feel comfortable, you can take a few more deep inhales and exhales. Try it, it just feels good.
You can read about more self-care techniques here: Self-Care in Uncertain Times
8. Cook or Bake
Not a fan of being in the kitchen? Try Pound Cake! This is my mom’s recipe and the first thing I ever baked in elementary school by myself. It’s so easy to make! I remember there used to literally be a pound of butter in this recipe, hence the name. That’s pretty grounding right there! My mom has cut the quantity of butter in half since the good ol’ days.
I believe everything is okay in moderation. There are plenty of healthy baking recipes out there. But this is a super easy recipe and requires very little kitchen skills. If you can measure flour and count eggs…it’s that simple. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
The whole idea is to get your hands busy creating something that you will put into your body.
Cooking, baking and eating are very grounding. IN MODERATION PLEASE. Be mindful of what you put into your body. Chew each bite slowly and savor the aroma and flavors. See if you can detect the individual ingredients/spices you are tasting.
Clearly, this is not a break from the family, but more of an activity that will help you ground and connect with your kids, and more importantly, stop you all from mulling about in the stress soup of world news.
Can’t Get Outside?
Something else to consider: The benefits of wearing copper bracelets include:
- Relief from joint pain and stiffness due to arthritis
- Boosts the immune system
- Enhances cardiovascular health
- Even promotes anti-aging
The bottom line:
Getting grounded means connecting with what is real and tangible, including you, your family, and the earth. You are better prepared to face the unpredictable when you are grounded. It helps you become present with what is, instead of what you wish things could be…and when you can do that, you might just realize that what you wish for isn’t what you really want or need after all.
Grounding makes life more calm, productive, healthier and much, much sweeter. It’s good for everyone in your family when YOU are grounded and standing in your own power, ready to face any challenge that may come your way. And these days…there are plenty of those.
Now go outside and Get Grounded! 🌱