Grounding on the Fourth

No, I don’t mean that my teenager is grounded for bad or unsafe behavior. Although, I do think that is a strategy, if done well, that can be helpful in guiding an adolescent to grow into greater maturity.

I mean that I have been practicing grounding techniques off and on today, in the midst of a national holiday during which I’ve been reflecting on our society’s need for growth to greater maturity. There’s a lot going on, to say the least. And I won’t begin to list specifics, because that is not what I’m writing about here.

I will say that at 246 years old, The United States is not very old compared to the indigenous cultures’ nations and tribes whose land on which we live. And the United States is relatively young compared to many other countries around the globe. So, I think I can say that as a country, as a society, we still have a lot to learn. I’m a long time proponent and practitioner of project based learning. Perhaps as a people we can take one step forward by beginning to ground ourselves before leaping to lash out, argue, and rely on knee jerk reactions toward ourselves and to one another. To that end, I’m sharing an article on grounding practices. The practices are quite accessible. You don’t need special equipment, special clothes, or to look or be a certain way.

The article is from Healthline and written by Crystal Raypole and medically reviewed by Vara Saripalli, PsyD. In it, Raypole shares several grounding techniques that one can easily practice. One practice is to take a walk. Today, I took a very long walk, something I’ve always loved to do probably because my home town is a city where everyone walks. I grew up walking and it feels like home to me. Another practice is “listen to your surroundings” and on a night like this, that struck me as funny because the surroundings outside of my home are filled with the sound of exploding fireworks – not exactly grounding. But I don’t really mind those sounds and won’t mind them until it’s time for bed. Then I’ll queue my sound machine to its loudest volume.

The Healthline article ends with Raypole reminding readers that learning something new takes time. And that learning is best done when one does the following: 1. Treat the learning as practice by doing a technique when one isn’t feeling anxious or stressed. 2. Avoid assigning values to their experience. The example shared is for the practice of noticing one’s environment. Rather than think about how you feel about what you identify in your environment, “concentrate on the basics of your surroundings” 3. Check in with yourself to see what you notice about yourself before and after each practice session. Raypole tells us to “rate your distress as a number between 1 and 10. What is your distress before you begin?” The idea is to check in with yourself after your practice of choice to see whether your distress has decreased.

What I really like about this approach is that doing these check-ins can let the individual decide whether a particular strategy is working for them. And if it isn’t, the article shares a total of 30 practices to choose from. It’s not a one size fits all approach. This is a strength of the article in that writer Raypole reminds the reader that they have agency over the approach they choose.

I’m going to keep pausing during the day this week to try practice #9 Noticing Your Environment. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’d love to know whether you try a practice, which practice you choose, and after using it for a bit, what you notice. Share your experience in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so. Here’s to more of us grounding!

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