Ground Down? Ground Down!

A coaching client came into my office this morning. Her mind was going a mile a minute. She barely breathed as she talked about how overloaded she feels juggling her work, family, and health. Like her, many of us are feeling ground down by too much to do and not enough time to do it. When we feel ground down, our resilience is low, making it difficult to handle any additional stressors on our already full plates.

When my client asked what could help her ease her mental tension, I responded, “It sounds like grounding down might help.” When it comes to figuring out how to remedy mental exhaustion, most of us in the legal field go up into our logical, problem-solving brains for solutions. However, trying to think our way out of mental exhaustion usually creates more mental fatigue. As unfamiliar as it may feel, try instead to “ground down” into the body. Grounding is a practice that moves your attention out of your thinking mind and into the sensations you’re experiencing in your body. Grounding interrupts rumination and is helpful for lawyers, judges, and law school students because it dissipates feelings of anxiousness common in our profession. When anxiety and rumination dissipate, it’s actually easier to find solutions to the problem than when you’re mentally overloaded…and the solutions you come up with also seem more do-able.

The next time you catch yourself ruminating, stressing, or feeling overloaded, try this simple grounding technique:

  1. Sitting or standing, put both feet on the ground.
  2. Imagine you have a marker and trace the shape of the outline of each foot on the ground (don’t actually use a marker, just use your imagination!). You can trace one foot at a time, or both feet at the same time.
  3. While you trace your feet with your imagination, pay attention to your breath. See if you can slow down the exhalation and make it longer than the inhalation.
  4. Once you’ve traced both feet once, trace them again, but this time take twice as long.
  5. Pause and notice how you feel.

When I guided my client through this practice, at first she said, “This is odd…WHY exactly am I doing this?!?” But after her second pass at tracing her feet, I heard her sigh. With a deep exhale she said, “Oh, this really works…I actually feel more calm and centered and that only took a few minutes!”

One of the greatest things about grounding is that it is simple and can be easily practiced any time, anywhere. Try it yourself and see what happens. The more you try, the more natural grounding becomes, and the quicker you’ll be able to shift your focus from your head to your feet and back again.

Laura Mahr is a North Carolina and Oregon lawyer and the founder of Conscious Legal Minds LLC, providing well-being consulting, training, and resilience coaching for attorneys and law offices nationwide. Through the lens of neurobiology, Laura helps build strong leaders, happy lawyers, and effective teams. Her work is informed by 13 years of practice as a civil sexual assault attorney, 25 years as a teacher and student of mindfulness and yoga, and seven years studying neurobiology and neuropsychology with clinical pioneers. Find out more about Laura’s new course, “How to Rock Your World: Five Tools to Get Grounded When the World Feels Rocky” by contacting Laura at

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