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These have been TRYING times to say the least. With COVID-19 sweeping the globe and our nation facing record-breaking numbers over the past several months, I have recognized that many people share this collective anxiety about the uncertainties we are currently facing. Feeling anything but grounded has become normal.

If you already have your regular anxiety machine running, the events happening in our country and around the world may be fueling your anxiety even more.

I’m an occupational therapist- although I have not worked in a traditional clinical setting for some time, I am involved in the healthcare world through you guessed it- this brand!

I see the intense struggles, undeniable exhaustion, trauma, compassion fatigue, and everything that comes with working in healthcare during COVID-19. Anxiety and not feeling grounded feels like it’s at an all-time high across the board, including for me.

Anxiety You Say?!

Fast forward from when COVID hit to now after dealing with living with my in-laws for 3 months (my husband and co-host of the Burnt Out to Lit Up Podcast had to forego being a traveling physical therapist after the COVID crisis hit, and we found ourselves homeless ), broken bones, decaying teeth, panic attacks, urgent cares, emergency rooms, root canals, crutches, moving across the country, being in a brand new city during a pandemic… I have had to re-evaluate, re-examine, and re-adjust a lot in my life!

It’s these unpleasant and unwanted experiences that in retrospect have led me to this point of feeling much more at peace with myself, feeling stronger, more forgiving of myself, and a newfound appreciation for things and people that I didn’t have before.

Let’s jump into these nine things that have grounded me during the height of my anxiety. Maybe you will find solace in these activities and find space in your life to implement them and modify them to fit your exact needs. Being grounded has been something I’ve been needing for so long but didn’t know I needed until my anxiety *not so* gently reminded me of it.

PS: If you’re looking to join a supportive community of healthcare professionals that also understand what you’re going through and receive regular resources to help you manage stress, burnout, personal and professional growth, join us inside of our virtual club.

These Are The 9 Things That Have Helped Me With Anxiety:

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1. Getting Grounded, Literally

Not feeling grounded for me has always played a role in my anxiety- I am so in my head and disconnected from my body and the earth. I got inspired to begin a new morning routine in which I take a walk every morning around my new neighborhood complex (it’s actually quite peaceful- there is a quiet lake across the street).

I love morning walks because it gets my body and brain started feeling energized and grounded, ready to take on the day.

After my walk, I go into my complex’s courtyard area and take off my shoes for 5-10 minutes and walk barefoot across the lawn. I am literally getting grounded!

Grounding or earthing is a therapeutic technique that involves performing activities that reconnect you to the earth. Having direct contact with the earth grounds the body by inducing favorable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote health, such as:

  • Improvements in heart rate variability (HRV), which refers to beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate.
  • Improvements in red blood fluidity (important for cardiovascular health)
  • Improvements in sleep, chronic pain, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, and mood (Chevalier et al., 2011; 2012; 2013).

Try it: Take off your shoes for a few minutes everyday or as often as you can and walk across your yard or an area with grass, sand, dirt, etc. This practice mentally makes me feel like I’m rooted and connected to earth, which is a soothing feeling whether you have anxiety or not.

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2. Establishing a Power-Down Hour

A proper power-down hour has literally transformed me. I got the term from one of my fav researchers, Dr. Michael Breus author of Power of When.

A power-down hour is an effective bedtime ritual of winding down your body and brain and getting grounded before going to sleep. I used to watch TV up until bed and then scroll on social media in bed until I got tired and went to sleep.

I would then attempt a meditation in bed- but honestly, these meditations were never that “successful” to me and my mind kept ruminating on life’s events for about an hour or so until I actually fell asleep.

Nowadays, my regular bedtime routine looks like this:

  • Drink Bedtime tea by Yogi while sitting on the floor and either reading or finishing up a show before I officially begin my power-down hour- LAST CALL TO CHECK SOCIAL MEDIA!
  • Turn off the lights and plug in my string lights
  • Get out my adult coloring book and set up shop on the floor
  • Light a candle and/or incense
  • Put on a YouTube channel with 432 Hz music or sound baths- I love Healing Vibrations
  • Color away until my heart is content
  • Pull some cards (I like my Tarot deck!)
  • Go to my bedroom and journal in bed 10 things for which I am grateful for- yes, 10 things each night (we also have string lights in our bedroom)
  • Put on my sleep YouTube 432 Hz playlist and go to sleep

Try it: Set up a power-down hour (or half-hour) for you! Especially if your anxiety is at an all-time high at night, grounding practices can help bring your mind and body to more restful state ready for sleep.

Make this intentional- dim the lights, put on soothing music, drink tea, engaging in a calming activity (coloring, knitting, puzzles, reading, etc.) and make a concerted effort to not scroll on social media in bed.

Do you think no phone in the bed is hard?? Honestly, I thought I could never stick to it, but it’s an absolutely delicious rule that has made my mind so calm and ready for bed that I can’t imagine scrolling in bed anymore.

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3. Daily Messages + Intentions

This practice is not new for me, but has been a practice that has grounded me for almost two years. No matter how I’m feeling, each day I have a message that anchors me throughout the day.

I have rotated through several card decks. My favorites have been:

Try it: If you find this to be a bit woo-woo, I get it. I have trusted that every time I pull a card in the morning, that that message is the message for me whether I want to see it or not. It’s OK to be curious and question the message. The good news is that there are other cards to pull! How you use the cards and what cards you use is up to you.

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4. Reading This Counter-Intuitive Book on Anxiety

Badass Ways to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks was recommended to me by a friend after my first panic attack, and I want to stand on top of a mountain and scream to everyone that has anxiety:

YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!!

Seriously, this book has completely changed my relationship with anxiety. I could say I wish I had read it sooner, but it came now at the perfect time for me, for which I am so grateful for.

Instead of fearing the fear or fearing the anxiety, I embrace it. Instead of avoiding it or wanting to get rid of it, I accept it like I accept other emotions. It’s a feeling full of thoughts- just thoughts- that are not going to hurt or kill me. Whatever happens, it’s OK. I’m not afraid of you anymore. I invite those feelings in when they’re there and to ask my anxiety to show me what it’s got!

I know I completely oversimplified it here, but after you read this book you will understand exactly what I mean. This may be seen as a counter-intuitive approach, but this approach has FREED me- I didn’t realize how much power I was giving my anxiety until I read this book (in two days- quick read!). I’m grounded and more confident in the fact that I know my feelings are an experience and not apart of who I am, and feelings try to tell me something but they can’t hurt me.

Try it: You can read this book or any book about dealing with anxiety you find to be helpful for you. The techniques in this book may not work for you, and that’s OK. I will say that accepting the fear is a technique that has truly made the biggest difference for me.

grounding anxiety burnout healthcare professional COVID-19 stress

5. Reading Familiar and Cozy Reads

I ordered the Little House on the Prairie Series on Amazon. Yes, I am re-reading some of my childhood favorites again.

Something about children literature is grounding and cozy and the opposite of anxiety. Perhaps it’s because it’s familiar to you. The way children literature is written is so soothing for me because it’s the far opposite of what my life is.

In reading some of my old favorite books, I take myself back to my nine-year-old self when reading was my escape. I read for fun. Nowadays, I read for personal growth or for business.

Yes, there are plenty of adult fiction books as well. However, I got drawn to be delighted by this series.

Try it: Read for fun! Read for delight. Go ahead, read those old childhood books you loved without shame!

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6. Getting Intentional About Improving My Health and Well-Being

I am a huge coffee fanatic. I’ve relied on coffee for many years- the warm feeling, the “let’s do this” when I take that first sip. Coffee has never let me down… until recently.

I stopped it for a month to give my body a break when I was taking a lot of medications everyday to manage the pain of my tooth/jaw/toe for several weeks. When I got back to drinking it, I didn’t feel so good. I felt the jittery anxiety. I tried a few times but just did not feel good. I decided that I wanted to make changes to my diet, so I found this awesome company called Pop and Bottle with caffeine and caffeine-free lattes, including oat milk lattes and turmeric almond milk lattes.

I figured that I can have a healthy alternative to my regular cup of coffee, why not try it! So far I LOVE my drinks from Pop and Bottle, and feel good about what’s in (and not in) them.

grounding anxiety burnout healthcare professional COVID-19 stress

Speaking about intentional purchases, I am on a personal mission to be more sustainable and support sustainable businesses. I found Slow Made through Instagram and appreciated that these candles are thoughtfully made with vegan and sustainable ingredients.

These candles smell delicious and pure and are lit every night during my power-down hour.

Try it: Sometimes when we want to do something to overhaul our health, it can feel daunting and we don’t know where to start! Start small so the changes you make feel sustainable to manage in the long-haul.

Do you want to change your eating habits, start being more mindful, support sustainable businesses? I started by creating a list that acts as a compass, but I do not put any pressure on myself to make all the changes in one day.

7. Finding a Therapist

I knew it was time for to me to revisit therapy. Stigma has surrounded mental health for so long, and it’s time to openly discuss mental health and the support we need. Just like physical health, we all have mental health! And so many people have anxiety- trust me, you are NOT alone.

I have found in my experience that even though I think I may be alone in something, I’m absolutely not. If you think that way too, it’s understandable to feel as though our circumstances feel so unique. But guess what! There are so many other people going through what you’re going through.

I have my initial appointments with two therapists scheduled and I will determine which therapist I think would be a better fit for me. There are different types of therapists, and if you’re not sure where to start, you can check out this article.

Try it: Find what you need. There are so many directories and an explosion of resources online. You can start with a Google search or turn to Instagram to find directories or therapists you can eventually end up working with.

grounding anxiety burnout healthcare professional COVID-19 stress

8. Caring For Plants

This is something that I’ve wanted to do for at least a year, and now I am a plant parent- woo! Caring for plants comes with so many benefits for your well-being. At first, I was overwhelmed with which plants to go with for my first ones, but thankfully I turned to YouTube and other resources online to figure out easy plants to start with.

The golden pothos in the picture above just got new leaf growth and it made me so happy!

Especially if you live alone or don’t have pets (I can’t wait to have pets- one day soon), caring for plants feels delightful and helps me feel like I’m doing something important (they need me to keep them alive after all!) that is also leisurely for me.

Try it: Start with this article about 7 house plants for beginners to get started. Happy planting!

grounding anxiety burnout healthcare professional COVID-19 stress

9. Attitude and Mindset

2020 has taught me a few powerful and provoking lessons, which has shifted my mindset and attitude about life. I realized I had to hit the lowest low of anxiety and now I’m on my journey of getting grounded and hopefully helping others (hence through this post!) with my experiences. Here are my lessons:

1. Surrender your need for control and go with the flow.

2. The things you were giving so much attention to and the grudges you were holding really don’t matter. Focus on what really matters and let that unnecessary stuff go.

3. Embrace uncertainty and do what you need to do to get grounded, even if you need extra time than you thought you did to make that transition.

4. Health is wealth! Health is wealth, health is wealth, health is wealth. Appreciate your health. Let that sink in. Give your body thanks for your health.

5. There’s no “on or off track” when it comes to building your dreams and reaching your goals. The obstacles are apart of the way. Embrace the obstacles, for they are apart of the journey.

Try it: What lessons have you learned in 2020? Let them sink in. Meditate on them. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and allow yourself to find the silver linings in difficult experiences.

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A Treat For You in August and Beyond

There’s A LOT going on right now. Healthcare professionals know this on another level.

Maybe you haven’t had a chance to fully catch your breath for several months. You may feel like a tree that lost its trunk and now you’re just a branch, being tossed whichever way the wind decides to take you.

In this downloadable playbook, we focus on getting grounded and incorporating mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual practices to help you feel grounded to better weather the storms in life.

This playbook includes:

  • Monthly Theme + Toolkit
  • Special Interest Section: Sleep and groundedness
  • Weekly Affirmations/Actfirmations
  • Main Intentions
  • Journal Prompts
  • This Month’s Grounding Activity
  • #HolisticWednesdays Article
  • #SelfcareSunday
  • Checklist to track your engagement

Take a deep breath, it’s time to get grounded so that we can better show up to work, patients, family, friends, the world- and most importantly, to ourselves.

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References:

Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S.T., Oschman, J.L., & Delany, R.M. (2013). Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE, Volume 19, Number 2, 2013, pp. 102–110. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2011.0820

Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S.T., Oschman, J.L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons . Journal of Environmental and Public Health Volume 2012, Article ID 291541, 8 pages doi:10.1155/2012/291541

Chevalier, G. & Sinatra, S.T. (2011). Emotional Stress, Heart Rate Variability, Grounding, and Improved Autonomic Tone: Clinical Applications. Integrative Medicine • Vol. 10, No. 3

Written by CEO and co-founder at Joy Energy Time Erika del Pozo MOT, OTR/L.

This is not medical advice. Please consult with your licensed healthcare professional regarding any treatment for your anxiety.


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