What does Grounding the body mean?
How can I use it to calm down?
When we’ve Cracked Up or Shut down from stress -our thinking has gone into panic mode or Stinking thinking, so we calm the body to calm the mind.
We’re trying to help it feel safe so that all the adrenaline flying around in our system goes back to levels where our human brain can switch on again. There’s a real science to it, but once you get it, it makes calming down much easier and pretty interesting!
The first thing we do is slow deep breathing.
That has a powerfully regulatory effect on both our pulse rate and the overall level of Crack Up. The reason it’s so powerful is that it works at the level of our body physiology reducing our heart rate and lowering our blood pressure. It also resets the stress center in our brain stem. BAM -you gotta get good at it!
Help the body feel safe & sound
The next thing we can do is “Ground the body“. Really that’s helping it feel safe and sound.
We do this by using our senses. We have approximately 6!
But when we’ve Cracked Up or Shut Down we can’t remember all of this…So I’ve simplified things a bit.
OMG –Orientation (See+Hear), Move, Grasp (Touch)
OMG -is a quick trick to remember what to do, as in
“OMG I’m freaking out, I have to chill?”
Orientation means Seeing and Hearing people.
Like…Do you want to be alone and quiet or with people and distracted? Everyone’s different.
Movement calms 4 different ways
- Heavy Work, like push ups, lifting something heavy or bouncing on our tiptoes supporting our body weight.
- Joint Work, like running up the stairs, throwing or kicking a footy, moving the joints to feel synced up -again, very powerful. Fiddle toys and stress balls can help.
- Balance Work, like rolling or sitting on a physio ball, walking along the top of a beam, balancing on one toe. We kind of find our balance and centre and feel calmer.
- Chewing. This is movement of our mouth and it’s very calming -think our life as a baby. Pop a chewing gum, crunch on cold carrots, suck on a chup-a-chup. The connections from our mouth go very deep into our brainstem so when you’re really struggling give this one a try.
Grasp -Touch really, there are 3 types
- Deep Touch -this is like a squeezy hug, but you can get it from lying on the floor, wrapping yourself tightly in a doona or big coat. The deep pressure can be very settling.
- Light Touch -This is soothing stroking. Some people like to twirl their hair or pat something soft (the dog or cat).
- Temperature -Warm can be soothing and cool alerting. The MOST POWERFUL is ice or cold water on the face or skin, it triggers the dive reflex which is left over from our life as sea mammals. When a dolphin or seal dives the water cools and this automatically slows the heart and metabolic rate. If you’re Cracking Up and overcooked this can reset things quickly. Try it out.
OMG that should really get you going….
A great way to combine all of these at once is dancing and singing. The dancing can regulate the body via lots of movements at once. Good singing needs good deep breathing and stops us hyperventilating.
We can use the other senses too like taste smell, oranges to alert, lavender to calm, hot chocolate to sooth…
So much! How do I figure out what I should do?
Great question! First as you start to get stressed, you’re body will naturally try to calm it’s self. Track what you naturally do.
- Say you’re getting bored and start jiggling your knee -that’s Joint Work trying to wake yourself up. So what are other joint things that you can to dial the calming up to the max?
- When you’re getting stressed you might get restless and want to move around, hopping around a bit -that’s Joing and Balance Work. You might start chewing your lip a bit or cracking your knuckles -Chewing and more Joint Work. So go get some chewing gum and go hang from a beam (that’s Joint Work and a bit of Heavy Work).
Once you start noticing, incredible patterns will emerge and you’ll get really good at getting in early and putting together great little pre-race rituals to help you manage your nerves and keep your Head Together. If you’re in a team you can do it together -how about a crew Haka?
Everyone’s different -very different, so what works for you might not work for your team mate. That’s totally cool.
You may also find that you have one or even 2 super strengths. I’m really strong with looking and deep touch so when I do OMG I have to remove myself from lots of faces and looking distractions and go and lie on my back away from everyone. I’m not being a snob. It’s just the quickest way for me to calm down and get my Head Together.
Bottom line: START TRACKING WHAT YOU NATURALLY DO TO CALM YOURSELF AND TRACK WHAT WORKS BEST TO CALM DOWN.