If you've wandered here by chance and do not know what an empath is, take a look at the post: Embracing Life as an Empath
This post is specifically written with empaths and highly sensitive people in mind, but anyone can use these grounding methods at any time as they are practical and can be ingrained into everyday life. In later posts, I'll talk about more spiritual and meditative / visualisation-based approaches to protect yourself and your boundaries, but in this post, I'm listing very "normal" things that you can do (that won't raise eyebrows!), daily, and quite easily, to help balance and ground your emotions, and ease any feelings of overwhelm. All of these things work for me - I use at least one method a day.
1. Physical exercise. This is going to apply mostly to those of you who like working out to some degree (if you don't, see number 2 below). Try and fit in half an hour of stretching, and or stepping, rowing, cycling, spinning, weights ... whatever floats your boat. The act of movement shifts your mind away from feelings and emotions, and into the present and the physical body. These kinds of exercises also activate those endorphins if you can hit that pain barrier (for some of us, the barrier's really not that far away!), and that's not a bad thing. The act of movement also grounds and earths you - always. This in turn helps to balance emotions.
2. Go for a half an hour walk. If you really can't stand the more exerting types of exercises above, go for a walk instead - a gentle stroll will do. If you can walk in nature, all the better (see point 3). As well as the necessary movement it provides, walking can offer you half an hour away from everything, on your own. It sounds so simple, but in the daily rush of life, we forget we need this. Taking time for ourselves makes us feel guilty and like we're not working, or not busy, but is a completely necessary boundary to establish (and empaths really do need to establish them). Again, the physical movement of walking is important (as explained in point 1).
3. Be in nature. On a metaphysical level, nature is a natural cleanser of all negative energy - soil, plants, and trees draw negativity away from the body (this is why you can cleanse crystals in soil - so walk barefoot on grass or soil if you can), and on top of that, nature is usually peaceful with fewer people milling around - fewer thoughts and emotions that don't belong to you. Nature also gives us energy. It will help you recharge.
4. Run your hands and feet (or yourself) through water. Water dispels negative energy in a very similar way to soil. It's a part of nature, and just like in point 3, it will help to wash toxicity away, giving you the chance to recharge. (If you're near the beach, a dip in the sea in fantastic!)
5. Shower. If you can't be among a natural water source, go for a quick shower - not too hot (cool is best for this purpose) - visualise the running water, gleaming and sparkling, washing all that toxicity away.
6. Eat a healthy snack - eat something natural like fruit or raw veg; seeds and nuts are okay, too, as long as you're not intolerant or allergic to them. Digestion is a physical thing your body needs to do, and these gut movements can help to ground you, and as long as you're eating natural raw foods, it puts you back in touch with nature. On a metaphysical level, digestion utilises a certain energy that moves us away from "feeling" and emotions - I almost always have a snack after finishing a meditation to help bring myself fully back into my body. But beware, this is also one of the reasons people can overeat (this need to draw away from emotions can become addictive for an empath, or any emotionally sensitive person) so please be aware of that, and definitely stay away from refined sugars when snacking to ground your empath tendencies.
7. Keep a daily diary or journal. Writing is a fantastic tool for expressing and filtering out emotions. By writing what you feel, you're often able to see which are your feelings, and which feelings belong to someone else - it helps straighten things out in the mind, and by getting it all out, you're also easing the heart. You don't have to write an essay unless you particularly want to - 5 minutes a day will do. (Make sure your journal is private and no one will peek at it - boundaries!)
8. Be creative. Very similar to writing, welcoming creativity into your life - whether it's dancing, acting, painting, knitting, crafting, cooking, singing, playing an instrument, and so on - will balance both mind and heart. Empaths need a creative outlet of some kind, especially if they don't have a physical one / don't like exercise.
9. Have a mantra for your boundaries. And don't feel guilty about it. There's a mantra I use: These are my boundaries, please respect them. I say this a few times in my head whenever I feel that guilt rise for not wanting to partake in something, or not wanting to go somewhere with a social crowd, or not wanting to speak to or visit that person right at this moment, and so on. Usually, I'll have to say this mantra daily. See it as a mental exercise: the more you say it to yourself in your head, the more you'll begin to feel worthy of the mantra, the more you'll feel your value, and then you'll find you'll be able to say it out loud to others when you need to. You don't have to use the mantra above - create your own - whatever sounds and feels good for you. The mantra should instil a sense of power and balance.
10. Choose your clothes wisely. Your clothes are a costume - or they can be. They can also be a shield. They can be a protective cloak, or a beacon that shines strong enough to make you feel strong in turn. Actors need a wardrobe department who know what they're doing! Wearing the right costume for your part can help you any given day you're feeling a little vulnerable. I wear sunglasses if I don't want to feel people's gazes on me, I have different coats for different "feels" - one's like a hug, one's like a statement, one's like a knight's breastplate... you get the idea. Do you want to wear pink, black, blue, green? Do you want to be the maiden in a flowing dress today? Or the warrior queen who won't take any sh*t? Point 10 applies to men, too, although admittedly, you have less choice in the variety of garments if you don't want people's tongues wagging (on the bright side, at least you have pockets!), but I'm sure you've got your pick of shirts and favourite T-shirts, jeans/trousers, and shoes that make you feel a certain way when you wear them. Maybe you just want to be comfortable in what you always wear, which is fine, too - the aim is comfort, security, and strength - but don't discount your clothes. Don't be afraid to dress for the part you want to play in life today. You're allowed to play that part - the stage is yours. Take it.
(Disclaimer: I will not be liable if you decide to take to the streets dressed as Thor!)
Hopefully someone will find the above list helpful to a degree. It sounds so simple when I write it all down, but these are things we forget to do with our busy lives - that we let slip so often - not least because, in order to work to their maximum effectiveness, they need to be done often and regularly. The ones that work for you best - they need to part of a routine. We're so rarely able to keep something up regularly in this day and age - it's one of the reasons shamanic and pagan [ceremonial] rituals were so prized: on a very practical level (not even going into the spiritual reason, here), their regularity - the routine - encouraged security, unity, and a sense of value, integrity and support in the community and for the self. (I'll also cover this aspect a bit more when I blog about meditative and spiritual approaches we can use to strengthen our balance and boundaries.)
By forming some kind of routine with the above, we can give that back to ourselves.