A strategy that parents use (for better or worse) when children
misbehave is to ground them from engaging in the activities that they enjoy. Getting
grounded means you are usually forbidden to leave home, except to go to school,
church, the doctor, or to other essential activities. Sound familiar? Although
it did not result from something that any of us did, it seems like we’ve all
been grounded. Or, rather, we should be feeling that way. Despite what some
people might be saying about COVID-19, this is a real and dangerous threat to
everyone—young and old.
Staying home, if at all possible, will help save lives—quite
possibly your own. But, you will also help save the lives of the people that
will need hospital care. Your behavior will help determine whether the hospitals
get overwhelmed. Many of them already are. This virus is such a powerful
example of our interconnectedness and the selfless nature of our lives. The
virus is not personal to you. It’s just a virus–doing its thing. And it has
connected us in large numbers. Now really is the time to see that everything
that you do could mean something significant to someone else—even someone you
While you are “being grounded,” so to speak, there are a number of things to consider. You might start feeling a little restless and agitated at times. You might start getting irritated with your loved ones who you are spending a lot more time with than usual. You might be feeling angry, sad, tired, bored, resentful, and many other emotions. Ultimately, you might be faced with the loss of loved ones that succumb to the virus. This has already happened and is a certain reality for too many already.
There are many things that you can’t do anymore, at least in
the same way that you’re used to. However, creative strategies for maintaining
sanity are available to you for staying grounded in this time of uncertainty
and change. Being grounded doesn’t have to mean being punished. Being grounded
also means that you feel steady, calm, and peaceful and there are many techniques
and strategies for grounding yourself even under the current circumstances.
Working on staying grounded has been a theme for me in the
last few days. Here are the practices that I love and use. But, there are many
more. I hope this list helps you think of your own way of staying grounded.
time in nature – Simply walking around my gardens yesterday afternoon when my
parents came by for a brief visit was enough to lift my mood. We noticed which new
spring flowers were starting to grow. We smiled at the perky daffodils, many of
them which came from my mother’s yard. The sun was poking out just a little bit
and we sat outside (6 feet apart) and had a little chat. Of course, you can
also go to the parks and enjoy other outdoor activities as long as you keep
your distance from others.
- Take walks with friends – Exercise and friendship go together for me. And, I am walking now more than ever. Combining the need to move with my need for social connection in a safe way by walking 6 feet apart has been a lifesaver.
- Meditate – I am really enjoying little mini-practices through the day. Mediation doesn’t
have to look a special way. It can
happen in the pauses between activities. Stopping to close my eyes or even look
out the window and experience the present moment with a sense that “it’s okay,”
“I can be here,” “this too” has been grounding and centering. Of course, longer
practices are great too but don’t underestimate the moments of presence that
you sprinkle through your day.
- Do yoga – A great way to feel more grounded, in general, is to do yoga. But, the poses are even more grounding when you stay mainly on the floor, take most of your focus to feeling your connection with the earth, and look down at the ground instead of looking straight ahead or up. All of these modifications to practice can help your energy move down instead of swirling around in the air. Join me at alleyCat yoga online until further notice.
- Breathe deeply
and often—Of course you’re breathing all of the time, but it is the quality
of the breath that matters. The moment you notice your energy becoming scattered
or you feel emotions starting to heat up (perhaps when you listen to a press
conference!), take a few deep breaths and let your mind rest on the breath
instead of your thoughts.
- Eat and drink mindfully – According to the teachings of Ayurveda, foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing—will help to balance excess energy. And, while you might be tempted to drink a little more alcohol than usual, now is not the time. Limiting or foregoing all together might be the better approach for your mood and your immune system. Drink hot tea or warm water instead.
- Take a hot both
with salts – When my body gets
tight, tense, and cranky, there is hardly anything better than a hot bath with Epsom
salts for 20 minutes. Luxuriate in the peacefulness of your bathroom with music
and candles and let the body let go and relax. Afterwards you can massage with warm
sesame oil, which is recommended for grounding.
- Connect with others – Lots of virtual methods for connecting with
others are being used that can help us continue to feel connected with loved
ones and maintain some sense of normality. I spent over an hour cooking with my
young nephew, Sam, on Sunday. He lives in Oregon, but we made hummus and blueberry
smoothies together on FaceTime. It was really lovely. In fact, we might have
more time now than usual to deepen our connection with others. Take advantage
of this lovely side benefit of this situation and let your connections with
others ground you.
- Stay in the present and savor – The only time that really exists is now. When you allow yourself to drop into the present moment, and deeply experience what is happening, you will feel more grounded. Whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant, or somewhere in-between, your capacity to deal with the situation or even thoroughly enjoy it is contingent on your ability to be present. And, when experiences are pleasant, being present for them so that you can attend, appreciate, and enhance the experience helps you cultivate your capacity to savor. Savoring the moment will help you feel more satisfied, grateful, and grounded.
Of course, the list of grounding techniques could go on and on. But,
maybe this will be enough to get you started thinking about what grounds you
most. Tune into your own body, heart, and mind and discover which activities
throw you off balance and which ones help you come back home to yourself.
We are all inter-connected and what one of us does affects
all of us. Be safe and grounded for yourself and everyone else who comes in contact