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Lying on the floor can help you feel less overwhelmed. Here's how to do it and why it works.

Nandini Maharaj   

Lying on the floor can help you feel less overwhelmed. Here's how to do it and why it works.
  • I'm a former therapist and after seeing patients I would stretch out on the floor.
  • Videos on TikTok show people doing "floor time" and talking about how it makes them feel better.

As a former therapist, the first thing I'd do when I got home from seeing clients was stretch out on the floor while my Bulldog, Dally, sniffed every inch of my head. This was my way of decompressing after a long workday.

Now that some of us have the option to work remotely, we may not need to wait until the end of the day for what TikTok users call "floor time." This isn't the same as how floor time is used in therapy for children with autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

On TikTok, floor time involves sitting or lying on the floor to soothe yourself. One creator captioned her video by saying, "It's so comforting to just drift away." Another person whose video has almost seven million views said about floor time, "I don't know why it just makes everything better."

The logic behind the online version of floor time is a technique known as grounding, which helps you connect with the present moment and tune out distressing thoughts. We asked experts what they think about floor time and how it can help if you're anxious or overwhelmed.

People have enjoyed floor time for centuries

When you lie on the floor, you're doing "a yoga pose, called savasana, which translates to corpse pose," Nicole Wood, a master trainer at YogaSix told Business Insider. "People have been doing this pose for thousands of years, and in every yoga class, a corpse pose is the last pose one does."

Whether you practice yoga or not, making the corpse pose part of your daily routine can be beneficial. Lying on the floor can help you block out external stimuli, allowing your body time to reset, Wood said.

That said, everyone is different. The extent to which you feel calm and grounded depends on your external environment and how you're feeling physically and emotionally.

Sometimes, people struggle to relax because their mind is racing. Other times, there could be distractions in the environment like kids, traffic, or email notifications.

As with floor time, "Yoga is called a practice for a reason," she said. "Some days, the practice comes easy, while other days, it's more difficult."

Floor time can help you feel grounded

If you've ever tried meditating or felt alert while running cold water over your hands, you're already familiar with the idea of grounding. You can use mental or physical techniques, but the goal of grounding is to shift your attention to the here and now.

An example of mental grounding is reciting song lyrics to yourself or imagining yourself doing a task like cooking or going for a bike ride. Similarly, there are several ways to ground yourself physically, such as going for a walk or taking deep breaths.

When you're having a bad day, "floor time is the ultimate grounding technique," Daryl Appleton, EdD, chief wellness consultant and Fortune 500 executive coach, told Business Insider. Research shows that grounding can reduce inflammation, pain, and stress, which may improve sleep and blood flow.

Compared to when you're sitting or standing, lying on the floor maximizes your contact with the ground. You may notice your muscles releasing tension with your back and legs supported.

"Getting on the ground outdoors is even better because it allows your nervous system to recalibrate," Appleton said. Physically connecting with the earth can boost your mood and help you relax and regulate your emotions.

Making the most out of floor time

When you're starting out, you only need five minutes to stretch out on the floor. The idea is to allow enough time to feel refreshed but not too long that you find yourself falling asleep.

If lying on a hard surface feels uncomfortable, you can use a blanket or yoga mat for added cushioning. You may also wish to cover yourself with a blanket, wear an eye mask, or listen to soothing music.

Wood suggested using blocks and a bolster to create a ramp for your spine. You can also slide a bolster or pillow behind your knees if needed.

Another way to support your back is to place your legs on a chair. As you're lying on the ground, "make sure your knees are at a 90-degree bend to support your lower half," she said.

The corpse pose isn't the only pose that helps with grounding. You can also try the mountain pose, warrior pose, or tree pose to engage your muscles and feel the stability of the ground beneath you.

Alternatives to this practice

Whether you call it floor time or a corpse pose, lying on the floor may not be an option. Still, it's possible to reap the benefits of grounding without having to get down on the floor.

Wood recommended taking the pillows and blankets off your bed. "Then lay flat on the bed to achieve the same goal," she said.

Another option is to walk barefoot outside or have a picnic in a grassy location like a park or forest, Appleton suggested. If you find gardening relaxing, you can pull weeds or plant flowers.

"Getting outside or being near an open window to get some vitamin D can make a person feel more grounded and connected to the physical earth around them," she said. Remember grounding is a healthy and effective way to distract yourself and self-soothe when you're overwhelmed.

Nandini Maharaj is a freelance writer covering health, wellness, identity, and relationships. She holds a master's degree in counseling and a doctorate in public health.

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