Episode 78 Simple Grounding Practices You Can Use In Therapy: Solo Episode by Chris McDonald

Aug 31, 2022

What is grounding and how can you and your clients benefit from grounding practices? How do you integrate grounding practices into your daily routine? 


  • What is grounding? 1:00
  • What is physical grounding? 4:28
  • What is mental grounding? 15:52
  • What is emotional grounding? 18:42

What Is Grounding?

  • What does it mean to get back into the body?
  • How does grounding relate to mindfulness?
  • What are the benefits of grounding practices?
  • What is the parasympathetic nervous system?

What Is Physical Grounding?

  • What is, “Earthing?’’
  • Tips for physical grounding
  • Physical grounding technique walk-through
  • Incorporating a mantra into physical grounding exercises

What Is Mental Grounding

  • Learn to use your current surroundings to mentally ground yourself
  • Mental grounding technique walk-through
  • Learning to categorize when mentally grounding
  • Slowing down when practicing mental grounding

 What Is Emotional Grounding

  • Using self-compassion when grounding emotionally
  • Relating physical and mental with emotional grounding
  • Sitting with and honoring your pain when emotionally grounding
  • Emotional grounding walk-through

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Chris McDonald: Welcome to the holistic counseling podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice and grow confidence in being your unique self. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the holistic counseling podcast. I'm your host. Once again, Chris McDonald today is another solo episode. I wanted to talk about grounding today. This is one of my strengths as a therapist that I have learned so many awesome grounding techniques that I wanna share with you, and I know how much they can help you and your clients.

So today I'll be discussing the benefits, some of the different types when to practice them, as well as giving you some experiential practice hands on so that you can feel the benefits right away. Cuz God knows. We all can use some grounding. So let's go ahead and dive right in. So first off, if we think about grounding, you've heard this term before.

So, what is it? Right? What is the definition? So to me, it's more of a centering practice. A lot of the clients I see get stuck in their heads, a lot of perfectionist overachievers. So they really don't know what's happening from the neck down. So to me, grounding is getting back into the body. And of course I use more somatic approach with clients.

So this is something that you could also Inc. But knowing that it's a self soothing skill too, when you or clients are feeling very overwhelmed, very bad days, intense anxiety. Sometimes it can help to detach from that when it's too much. And just get back to yourself to kind of settle you down, settle your nervous system, turn on that para pathetic so that you don't have to be so activated.

It's reconnecting with Earth's energy. To me, it's about settling. the mind, the body and the spirit holistically creating like an anchor for yourself and connecting you back to the body from the distressing thoughts. And also thinking about present moment awareness to me, grounding and mindfulness kind of overlap in a lot of strategies.

But regardless who cares, right? if it works and it doesn't cause harm, I say, keep doing it. So what are the benefits overall? So decrease chronic pain, decrease stress response. Like I mentioned, the parasympathetic, which for those that don't know is more of the calming response, the rest and digest and chill response, shall we say?

So that can help with calming down activation, like from high anxiety, trauma. So the benefits include improved sleep energy, decreased inflammation in the body. So it's not just the emotional, right. It's also the physical responses that are shown with this. And it really helps helps everybody to connect to the present moment.

I was gonna say clients and you, which. Of course, we all need that too. Cuz again, anxiety, we can be too far ahead in our thoughts about the future or anxious from traumatic events that we've been through or with depression, sometimes it is about still getting in your body. We can still use grounding with depression, especially cuz a lot of our clients are going to have.

Both. Right. So they do hold hands, anxiety and depression. You'll see one all, oftentimes you'll see the other in some shape or form. And I wanted to let you know my experience with using grounding. It is transformational. There's no other way to put it with clients. A lot of them have never experienced these skills and practices.

And using them just really can sooth right away. Like, like you can see the visible physical results. And that's the only hard part with audio is . I wish I could show you, but it's just totally tremendous to see the results with clients and the more that they practice them at home. And of course I give that a therapeutic homework, the more they benefit.

And they're able to add this to their toolbox, to help with coping. I've seen so many people turned around with this. And to me, you doing a lot of yoga practices, of course, is grounding in and of itself. It just is. It's connecting the breath to movement to the body. And of course with meditation as part of yoga and breath work alone can be grounding.

Before I get into the different types of grounding. I wanted to just start with the basics. So one way is called earthing. And interestingly enough, I did some research and it is actually research. This is research based to have yourself or clients to go barefoot on the grass. And if you're like me and you're allergic to grass, , you can also put, uh, a yoga mat down or a.

A blanket, something you'll still get the benefits. So all it is is simple as that going barefoot on the grass for you gotta go for 30 minutes or it could be on sand, dirt, even concrete, which I was told that concrete like blocks or synergy, but I guess it doesn't something about the electrons. I don't understand all of it, but I'm not a scientist on that part, but all I know is from what I read, it does work.

And those benefits I mentioned can come from this earthing from grounding being outside, but not just for three minutes, it's gotta be for 30 minutes. So it helps like conducting the Earth's energy into your body. And you can just try it and see does this work. Cause I know in between sessions, I like to go outside and stand the grass, but I don't usually have time.

30 minutes. So I think this would have to be an intentional practice for you to think about when could I do this and would the morning be a good time or after work? I can imagine after work, that would be amazing just to be there and connect. And it got me thinking about, I love to garden and I feel so amazing after I'm done gardening.

And that makes sense. Doesn't it connecting to the earth and you're feeling the Earth's energy beneath you. You're growing things. You're really feeling that deep intertwined connection with all that is feeling your hands in the dirt is also part can be also part of what's called earthing. So that's a good place to start and you can encourage clients to do that.

I know one thing I tell clients, especially those are depressed to get outside at least once a day. Especially because a lot of people are working from home and I have clients that don't go outside for like a week . So it's really important to get some vitamin D from the sun, as well as trying the earthing grounding.

See how that see how you feel. And I'm guessing too, when I've done yoga outside, it's an extra benefit. That's why it feels so good too, to have our feet on the ground and not rubber sold shoes is what I read too. That, that blocks. So anytime we're wearing those kinds of shoes, we're not getting the benefits.

So that's why it's important to find a way to go bare. But being careful, cuz there are stuff in the grass, there are bugs. all I can think of is like bees and you know, being cautious, putting something down might be a better option if you're worried about that. And we got fire ants of the south. So, so be careful of there, but know that there are benefits to this.

So the three types of grounding that I teach clients are physical, mental. And emotional and emotional can be slash self soothing. So they kinda go together and you can probably guess physical is my favorite, especially those that love to teach yoga or other movement activities. So let me go through some of the, of the ways that you can teach clients or uses for yourself.

Splashing water on your face can help bring you back a little bit, putting ice on your wrist, holding it or just holding it in your hand comes, the nervous system brings you back. Or drinking a beverage. So you could do a cold beverage just holding it. Like if you have a can of soda or seltzer, just holding it, feeling the can in your hands taking a sip, it's about slowing it down, feeling the sensation of the bubbles in your mouth, feeling your throat, as you swallow, feeling it and going into your belly.

Or my favorite is a cup of tea. So having that warm mug between your hands smelling the scent of it, taking the slow sip of the warmth and just being present with it. And again, using all your senses using sight, you can look at the colors of the tea. You can smell it. And close your eyes for this too. I think that helps to tune into the sensations.

You can hear the sounds of the tea as you, as you create it, cook it. Is that the right word for tea cooking as you heat it up, heat up the hot water. Better way to say it. That's especially a good one to use a hot beverage on a cold day, but in the summer getting that cold iced tea or lemonade and lemon is also a good physical thing to actually bite a lemon , uh, can kinda shock the system back.

And these are all good for people experiencing trauma too, that might be dissociating to help them get back into their bodies. You can also look around yourself right now and you can see right where your space find an object, pick something up, just notice how heavy it is. Is it smooth or rough, heavy or light?

Is it small or large? What kind of shape is it? Or have a grounding stone. I know I have some stones on my desk or it could be a crystal just putting that in your pocket. I. Rubbing onto that too. Especially if you notice that you are dissociating or your mind's racing, getting yourself back, these are all small things you can do and practice.

And all these skills I'm talking about is so important to make sure you're practicing. Let's do some experiential with physical, as long as you're not driving, you can do this. If you're driving, pull over or just pause this and come back to it and it helps to have your feet on the floor. Spine straight.

We're just trying to create awareness. I'm not trying to put you to sleep and just try to settle in. If you need to shift a little, do that now can roll your shoulders. Do what you must. If there's any areas, a tension that you're noticing before we start, just notice how your clothes feel on your body as you sit here.

You can put your hands on your clothes. Are they smooth or rough? Are they scratchy or silky? Just notice what the sensations of the clothes are. Are they heavy? Are light constricting or loose? And moving on to your feet, notice your feet on the floor, feeling the pads of your toes, the ball of your feet, both feet, your arches, and your heels connecting on the floor and with your right foot.

See if you can Brock gently from heel to toe, just gently back and forth. Just noticing what sensations come up as you do this, and then slow that down and try it with a left foot. So we're just gentle, rocking from heel to toe foot, staying on the floor back and forth and see if you can add the right one in so both feet at the same time, rocking back and forth, heel to toe.

Good. And then. And see if you can just push your feet into the floor. So you make tension in your legs, create that tension and release, noticing how your legs feel after getting them more tense and relaxed. Now, imagine you have roots coming from the bottom of your feet. Growing out into the earth, going to the center of the earth, connecting you.

Centering you and grounding, you can imagine from your tailbone as an energy cord, that's also bringing it down to the earth all the way to the center. Grounded you are here. Just noticing what that feels like to be present. Noticing. And put your hands on your chair and notice the texture. Is it rough or smooth?

The temperature? Is it warm or cool? Hard or soft. And with both arms, see if you can push gently into the chair, just noticing sensation in your arms as you do that and release, just noticing how that feels after letting. let's see if you can tighten up your glutes, feeling those muscles as they tighten up and release, letting go noticing your spine as it reaches straight up, noticing that center of your body, wherever that is for you and your shoulders.

Seeing if there's any tension. Or if you notice they're more relaxed and make a fist with both hands clench, it feel that tension as you make that fist and hold it without hurting yourself and then release. Notice how they feel more relaxed and make a fist again, feeling the tension in your hands and released.

So notice how it feels from being tense to relaxed. Notice the difference. What does that feel like? Pay attention as you go throughout your day to notice what are my hands doing? Am I more clenched or am I relaxed and put your hands together, your palms together to pray or pose at your chest. And we're gonna do something a little different with this, instead of just leaving them here, we're gonna push having them, push them against each other.

See if you can feel the tension in your arms as you do that and release. Now you can go ahead and shake out your hands in your arms, letting go of any residual stress of the day. Inhale. Bring your arms up. Exhale arms down and this time we're gonna do it with a mantra. So, and when we inhale, we're gonna say, I am and exhale will be here.

So inhale. I am exhale here.

inhale. I am exhale here. And just allow your arms to fall gently by your side and see if you can pick up any on any sensations in your body. After we did some gentle grounding and movements that were physical notice any you'd liked, or didn't like just be with it for a moment. So let's move on to mental.

One thing you can do with mental is to look around the room. And just out loud, say how many colors you see? I see. Purple black, white, gray, blue. Now look at shapes. See, see how many shapes you can name. I see rectangle circle, square circle. I would just notice the temperature in the room. Is it warm or cool or hot or neutral?

What sounds do you hear in the room? Sounds outside of the room. Now, I want you to think about what are your favorite TV shows and just name them in your head. And if you don't like TV, favorite books, name some animals. You like, you can say them out loud. If that helps, what are some sports teams you like favorite colors and it doesn't matter what the category is.

As long as you're engaging your mind mentally. See, if you can count to a hundred, we're not gonna do it right now. , it's another way to do that slowly. Or you can go through the alphabet and go nice and slow. A, B, C. This might put you to sleep though. that's not the point. Right? So using mental strategies can be just even doing a math problem, not my favorite thing.

but for some people that can be. Almost a form of soothing, right? Keeping your mind busy with something you can do. Other categories, just naming, what are sports teams that you know, know of name all the capitals in the United States name, all the countries you want to visit. So any kind of category can be part of the mental grounding and you can also imagine pleasant imagery.

What's your favorite scene? Do you like sunsets or do you like to see mountains coming up in the distance? Snowy mountains. And just trying to picture that if you're a visual person, of course. See what that looks like any kind of visualization can be really helpful for mental grounding, which can tie in some of these do overlap.

I get it can tie into the emotional grounding. So how do we use emotional grounding? One way is through the words we say to ourselves. So using self-compassion, let's say you're having a really difficult day saying to yourself, this is painful. Everyone feels this way. Sometimes. I know I'm gonna get through this, or if you prefer to say, you will get through this to say that to yourself, either way is fine.

And this is just a moment of suffering, just sitting with that. And emotional can be with physical as well. So let's say that you are upset about something that happened. A fight with a partner. You can use physical by saying to yourself, where do I feel it in my body? Where are the sensations? Oh, I notice it in my stomach.

So let me put my hand on that one hand or both hands. And this is painful. This is difficult right now. Let me just honor this pain and just see what it is. Just allow it be in that space. I know this is hard for me right now being present.

You can also picture loved ones in your mind. So again, using visualization, hopefully it's a loved one that calms you down. so be careful who your loved one is, or you can picture. If you have a divine entity, somebody you pray to whatever your beliefs are, maybe a guru that you really admire. Somebody that's passed over or someone that's alive.

Just picturing them. If that calms you down, you can also plan a safe treat for yourself. So taking a nice bath with some essential oils. Some salts planning, a favorite meal for yourself with a loved one or chocolate, which is my favorite. And just really slowing down with it though, and not shoveling it, but taking the time to use your senses, to smell it, to look at it and then taste it and really just savoring being in the moment with it.

And mince can also be grounding too. If you put a mint in your mouth and just allow it to get yourself more present in your body, food can be a great way to ground yourself. You can also play a favorite inspiring song. Something that you know is gonna really get in there and help you to calm down or detach.

Maybe from that emotion. It's almost like we're rewiring our brain with a lot of these strategies too, to kind of put another neuron. The neurons to fire another direction out of whatever it is we're ruminating on or the difficult emotions. You can also look around the space you're in. Is there anything that's resourcing?

So for me, I have a picture of the Cape. Hatter is lighthouse in front of me, cuz that's very soothing. I love the image of the blue sky, white clouds, the water that's in front of. The trees, the wooden path. I also have a dream catcher that has the yin and yang symbol that I love to look at. I also have a statement that says faith over fear inspires me.

I have a cat statue, cuz it makes me smile. Any of those objects can be resource objects, any kind of calm scenes, pictures of pets, or if your pet is actually there, there you go. That could be considered emotional grounding, physical grounding, and that calms you down the lowers, your blood pressure, petting animals.

And just thinking about what brings you joy? What do you love? Sometimes bringing that into your mind too, can be emotional grounding. What do you feel that is really connected to your passion? So I hope this was helpful. I know this was a lot, it felt like a lot that I gave you. I hope it was, but there's of course I have lots more, but I don't want this episode to go on for three hours.

So, and I know your time is limited to listen in. So let me know which of these grounding practices did you like the best? There's no right or wrong answer to that. Everybody likes something different. You can shoot me an email@chrisholisticcounselingpodcast.com. I'd love to hear from you. Any feedback on the podcast is always welcome.

If you have ideas for episodes or wanna be a guest, just let me know we can chat about it. And remember any of the grounding practices I mentioned, the more you practice them. The more, it's going to feel good in your body at first, if you've not used to these and for clients too, it can feel uncomfortable or strange or weird, but the more you do it, the more it settles in and you'll notice the shifts.

And that's the thing to look out for is the shifts in your nervous system and a good time to practices to start your day. Before you see your first client in between clients is good too, or as a transition at the end of the day. Let me just sit and settle myself before I close out my day and move from business.

Or if you're an agency work school, wherever you are, let me just transition. To personal me and making some of this grounding practices and do what you love. So if you didn't like some of the stuff I did figure out what are some things I can practice that I do love, cuz the more you love them, the more it's going to help, the more you're gonna stick with it.

Cuz if some of these didn't resonate. Then you're not gonna keep up with it. Sound good. Thank you for tuning in today, but be sure to visit us@wwwdotholisticcounselingpodcast.com to access our show notes and all our episodes. And I also have a new resource page, which has links to holistic resources and discounted codes for products and services.

I have personally vetted. This is Chris. McDonald's sending each one of you much light and low. So next time, take care. Thanks for listening to the holistic counseling podcast. Ready to engage with other holistic counselors. Head on over to my Facebook group, the holistic counseling and self care group, where you'll be able to connect with other holistic counselors, just like you.

You'll also gain invaluable resources on holistic practices daily and connect with others in a fun drama, free environment. Remember to tune in next Wednesday for another episode.

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