With darker days can come feelings of being unsettled and down, ranging from the occasional “winter blues” to full-blown seasonal affective disorder. Since daylight affects your internal rhythms, it makes sense that your energy is affected when the days are shorter. There are activities you can do, however, to help balance you out—primarily to ground your energy in the cooler, crisper months.
What Is Grounding?
Generally speaking, grounding is any activity that reconnects you to the earth and helps you feel calm, centered, and present. In scientific terms, grounding (or earthing) refers to techniques that reconnect you to the electrical current of the Earth, similar to the grounding wire in three-prong electrical outlets.
Grounding activities often include walking barefoot outside or sitting under a tree; however, the weather in winter months can make getting outside during the day difficult. Since grounding has been shown to decrease the symptoms of pain and inflammation, as well as improve mood, sleep, and circulation, it is worth exploring the ways you can ground yourself indoors, during the time of the year when you often need it the most.
Here are some ways you can practice getting grounded and expanding your well-being.
1. Put Your Feet Flat on the Floor
Most suggestions for grounding techniques include walking outside in bare feet; however, you can still get the benefit of grounding by putting both of your feet flat on the floor without going outside. With or without shoes or socks, firmly planting your feet establishes a strong foundation in your body, mind, and energy.
- Rather than sitting on the floor, try meditating for a few minutes sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor. Imagine your feet are like plugs connecting into the energy of the Earth.
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) while in line at the grocery store or the post office, rather than letting your hips fall to one side.
- Have to give a presentation at work or anticipating an important phone call? Stand firmly on both feet and feel an even distribution of weight between them. A steady stance tells your system you are safe and capable of whatever you need to do.
2. Breathe Deeply
Oftentimes, the need for grounding is preceded by anxiety, nervousness, and stress. Taking some deep breaths is one of the easiest and quickest things you can do to calm your nervous system and get grounded. Breathing practices have been shown to have a variety of benefits, including a decreased sense of overwhelm in as little as a few moments.
- Try starting with a “Box Breath”, by inhaling for a count of four, holding in for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding the exhalation for a count of four.
- Deepening and controlling your breath turns your focus to the felt sensations in the body, which can help bring greater presence in moments of disconnect and disarray.
3. Practice a Sun Meditation
There are several ways you can do a Sun Meditation:
- Bundle up (if necessary) and get outside for a few minutes to stand in the sunshine. Even if you pause on your way to and from the car on your way into work, you can lift your chin and let the sunshine wash over you.
- If you have a window or porch that receives sunlight, let yourself bask in the warmth of the sun to bring heat and power into your body and spirit. Take breaks throughout your day to let the sun hit your face in one way or another.
- No sunshine in sight? Visualize your own personal sun 8-12 inches over your head while you meditate. See that sun feeding your spirit with positively charged vitality, the way the sun feeds a tree with its light. Imagine your roots going down into the Earth with every breath you take, helping you to connect to subtle (yet powerful) ground energy of Nature.
4. Connect to Your Senses
Use somatic mindfulness practices to help you connect to your sense organs and bring you into the moment.
- Take a hot shower and connect to the feeling and temperature of the water as it touches your body.
- Take a bath and delight your senses with calming music, aromatic scents, and dim light or candles.
- Get a massage or give yourself a self-massage with sesame oil (particularly on your feet and legs).
- Drink a hot beverage and feel the warmth move through your system.
- Make a hearty vegetable soup to smell, taste, and savor.
- Smell essential oils like frankincense or lavender.
- Listen to Native American drumbeat music; drums activate the root chakra.
5. Do Some Grounding Yoga Postures
When you need to bring attention to your body and feel the stability of the Earth beneath you, nothing delivers quite like doing some intentional yoga postures for earthing. Postures that help you plug into the earth and feel fully supported help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, or the “Rest and Digest” response.
- Child’s Pose (with or without a bolster under your chest)
- Downward-Facing Dog
- Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
- Corpse Pose (Savasana)
6. Get a Pedicure
This suggestion is less about the outcome and more about the experience of soaking your feet in warm water and having a gentle foot and leg massage. Bringing awareness and circulation to your lower extremities brings your attention closer to gravity. Plus, the calming effects of getting a pedicure and tending to your feet can reduce stress and improve self-confidence. Try using sesame oil on your feet and skin, which is recommended in the winter months in Ayurveda.
7. Invest in Grounding Accessories
Finally, consider investing in one of the many forms of grounding accessories on the market today, like a grounding mat, chair seat, or body band. These products can help improve sleep and energy levels in how they direct the Earth’s electric field.
See What Works for You
Learning how to ground yourself anytime, anywhere is one of the most helpful and useful skills for a lifetime of inner calm, health, wellness, and resilience. Grounding techniques can help you feel in control in a world that often feels anything but. By centering yourself amidst the turbulence of life, you can allow situations to come and go without being untethered by them. Explore and discover a grounding activity that you love and that helps you to find a sense of balance. No matter the weather, you are only a few actions away from self-regulating your mind-body system in the direction of greater well-being and harmony.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.