The Simplest Solution to Out-of-Control Anxiety
If you’ve ever felt panicky about an upcoming deadline, or so nervous about doing something that you thought you were going to be sick, you probably consider anxiety to be a giant pain in the ass. And for good reason!
Anxiety has the ability to destroy your confidence, make your life feel out-of-control, and hold you back from following your heart’s true desires. It can be one of the biggest obstacles to the life you want to live.
However, it isn’t supposed to be this way. We have evolved to feel all of our emotions for a reason, and anxiety is no exception.
When it is in balance, anxiety serves a very important function of helping us to think ahead to the future, make plans, and get organized. It is the motivation behind making To Do lists to accomplish our goals, and setting alarms on our phone so that we wake up on time for all the important things we’ve chosen to do.
However, when anxiety is overactive it stops being helpful, and starts making our life miserable. When it is excessive, it can run us in circles, make us afraid to try new things, and even lead to panic attacks.
And most of the time, our anxiety gets to this state for one simple reason: we aren’t grounded enough.
Being grounded means being fully embodied, so any time we shift our awareness away from our bodies (and the physical world around us) and into the realm of ideas (and mental activity), we become less grounded in that moment. And all of these individual moments inform our overall state of groundedness.
Our modern way of life is constantly engaging our mind, and mental activities are central to many of the ways that we make our living. And at the same time, modern living is also very sedentary. While our ancestors used our bodies constantly throughout the day, many of us struggle just to get in 30 minutes of exercise.
And to top that off, we now spend so much time indoors that we sometimes don’t even see the sun for days. Even when we go for a walk in nature, the rubber of our shoes prevents us from electrically grounding to the earth. This seems normal to us today, but keep in mind that our ancestors - who didn’t have rubber and plastic - were electrically “grounded” 100% of the time. Today, we might get that kind of real, physical grounding a few times a year (unless we are lucky enough to have a garden!)
So as you can see, ungroundedness has really become our modern baseline. Even children, who naturally tend to be “in their bodies”, are becoming less grounded due to the influence of TV, video games, and the long hours they spend sitting at a desk in school.
There are many other daily choices we can (and do) make that make us less grounded as well. Sugar, carbs, and caffeine all tend to negatively impact our grounding, and even certain kinds of meditation and spiritual activities (such as guided visualizations and shamanic journeying) can be ungrounding by pulling us away from our felt experience of the here and now.
But you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with anxiety?
Here’s how they are connected.
As we’ve seen, being grounded means being fully in our bodies, and our emotions and bodies are very closely intertwined. Emotions always cause a physiological response (such as how anxiety activates our nervous system), and our physiology affects our emotions (which is why slow breathing can calm our anxiety). The state of one affects the other.
But the connection between anxiety and grounding goes beyond that, into the realm of psychology and spirituality. There is something fundamentally calming and soothing about feeling rooted in the earth, and it is our connection to the earth that gives us our most basic sense of belonging, home, resilience, and safety.
So if we are chronically ungrounded, it follows that we would have difficulty feeling this fundamental sense of home and safety. Why do so many highly spiritual (and highly sensitive) people feel like they don’t truly belong on this earth? Most likely because they are not rooted enough in the earth (and their bodies), energetically.
Anxiety is the form of fear that anticipates danger (or negative outcomes) that could happen in the future.
So you can imagine what a persistent, subtle feeling of not being safe might do to our anxiety!
Luckily, our state of grounding is something that is fully within our power to fix… and more grounded life choices are almost always healthier for us anyway! If you are someone who struggles with too much anxiety, becoming more grounded will give you immediate relief.
Here is a list of some simple changes and additions to your daily routine, that you can use to cultivate a more grounded state of being.
1) Cut back on caffeine, sugar, and simple carbs.
Unless you’re already a minimalist, you’ll definitely notice many beneficial side-effects from this one change - once your initial cravings subside (and they will, so hang in there!)
2) Move your body more.
Probably the single best tool for getting grounded is physical activity. This doesn’t have to constitute “exercise”; any movement that gets you feeling more in your body will have a grounding effect (my personal favorites are qi gong and yoga). Of course, this benefit can be negated if you spend the entire time daydreaming, so be sure to move mindfully.
3) Take frequent, short breaks from screen time.
Ideally these would be movement breaks, but even looking up from the computer and gazing out of the window for a minute will help return you to the present. (And this is also good for your eyesight as well!) Another great thing to do for a momentary break is a simple sensory meditation, either by focusing on your breathing or bringing your awareness to each of your physical senses.
4) Begin and end your day with gentle movement.
This is a variation on #2, but it’s important because the tendency to jump straight into mental activity in the morning - and straight from mental stimulation into bed at night - can set us up for ungrounded days and sleepless nights. You can avoid this by starting your day right, and giving yourself a few minutes to wind down and calm your nervous system at night. And it feels so good to do this, believe me!
5) Welcome in your sadness.
Wait a minute, wasn’t this article about anxiety? Yes it is, and all of the emotions affect each other. How this happens is a subject for another time, but here it is important to make the connection between sadness and anxiety.
While anxiety has an activating effect on the nervous system, sadness is inherently calming and down-regulating. I would even go so far as to say that our ability to ground is fundamentally connected to our ability to feel sadness - so if we regularly suppress our sadness, this will likely result in chronic ungroundedness (and excessive anxiety). By helping us to relax, let go, and surrender to the moment, sadness can be a great ally with bringing anxiety into balance.
6) Revitalize your grounding cord with a simple visualization.
If you don’t have any truck with the idea of having an energy body, feel free to skip this one. But if you want to cultivate your grounding on an energetic level, one of the most important ways to do this is to spend a few minutes each day clarifying and strengthening your grounding cord.
To do this, first check in with the current state of your grounding cord (extending downward from the base of your spine), using your intuition to sense its size, smoothness, straightness, color, density, etc. Once you have a sense of it, follow it all the way to the center of the earth, making sure (with your intention) that it is anchored in the very center of the planet.
Then using the earth’s energy and your intention, make whatever changes you feel are needed (such as increasing its size to whatever size you feel you need to be fully grounded). Finally, spend a couple minutes envisioning and feeling the nourishing energy of the earth moving up your grounding cord and into your body, bringing energetic nourishment and revitalization to your whole being.
Excessive anxiety can feel like a curse, but the cause (and the cure) may be simpler than you think.
Just as with any other problem, it’s always best to start with trying the simplest solution first. If you are challenged by anxiety and aren’t a naturally grounded person (or have simply never thought about it before), I encourage you to give some of these suggestions a try.
However, if you make a sincere effort to get more grounded and that doesn’t shift your anxiety, don’t feel like a failure! There’s likely something deeper (and more complex) that needs to be addressed, and there’s nothing shameful about needing help.
If you are finding yourself in need of professional assistance and would like to avoid spending years in therapy, I specialize in creating profound and rapid transformation around emotions like anxiety. Honestly, that’s my passion! Even if you simply want some free advice, you can book a complementary Emotional Breakthrough session with me anytime.
First, though, I highly suggest that you spend some time looking into your level of grounding, and then do whatever you feel is needed to ensure that your groundedness is where it needs to be to fully support you in your life. Because your grounding is the foundation for all that you are, and all that you do.