This time of year can be extremely stressful for many people. Research has shown strong links between stress and mental health problems. In vulnerable people stress can trigger episodes of psychosis, mania and depression. Stress worsens anxiety and interferes with sleep and appetite – both of which are essential for good mental and physical health. It also makes it more difficult to cope with both everyday and more difficult situations and emotions.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body in response to stress and research indicates that high levels of cortisol may be directly involved in the pathophysiology of depression. Stress and cortisol have significant effects on serotonin production (a key neurotransmitter involved in mood) and high levels of cortisol are often seen in people experiencing major depression.
There are many different options for keeping stress levels at bay. Here is a great piece of information and a lovely grounding exercise from my gorgeous friend Jodie:
How grounded are you feeling right now?
Being grounded means being present in our lives, not focusing obsessively on either the past or the future. When our energy is planted firmly in our bodies, we are ready to face our lives and handle its challenges with strength and love.
Being properly grounded helps us to deal with our feelings. Imagine that emotions are like water flowing down a river. If the flow becomes too strong, and the banks cannot hold it, the river will flood. However, if we are well grounded, and our banks are high and strong, then even the strongest of emotions can flow freely while being supported.
These days we are increasingly surrounded by other people’s energies and bombarded with electronics leaving us feeling scattered or overwhelmed. Sometimes even being in a house with the wifi turned on can interfere with our energy levels and we can end up feeling unfocused or spacey without knowing why. Getting grounded helps to focus these energies and brings us back to our own stable core.
Being present in your body in a great way of getting grounded. Anything physical that forces us to concentrate and really be in our bodies grounds us. Yoga, working out at the gym, sex, anything that raises a sweat is good!
We can also ground ourselves by literally being in contact with the ground. Walking barefoot on the grass, the earth, or the beach are also great ways to feel more grounded. Running yourself a hot bath with natural salts (pink himalayan rock salt is my favourite) is a really soothing and gentle way to literally soak up the ground.
If you are inside or only have five minutes, or if you have nervous energy in need of grounding before a meeting or presentation, you can also do a short meditation or visualisation.
Here is a quick one to try:
Close your eyes and take 3 long deep breaths. Bring your awareness to the present moment. Feel the air around you, your clothes on your body and notice any sounds around you. Now, begin to imagine that your feet have long thick cords like roots growing down from the soles towards the centre of the earth. Breathe deeply and stretch your roots down through the surface of the ground and deeper through the rich dark soil until you come to the core of the earth. Allow your roots to fuse with the core of the earth, holding you gently but securely. Feel how grounded and centred you are.
I have always been amazed at how well this works.
Whether its lying on the grass in the local park for a few minutes, doing a short visualisation or even just going outside and taking 3 deep breathes, reconnecting with the natural earth around you will help you to refocus and continue your day happier and more grounded.
Jodie is a human rights and sex discrimination lawyer, executive coach and meditation teacher. She runs meditation workshops and Womens’ Empowerment Circles and is currently founding an organisation called Meditate The World. She also has a business offering celebration circles with a deeper spiritual focus for significant milestones such as birthdays, baby showers, womens’ events and hens gatherings. She has two beautiful children and loves being a mum.