Last Updated on June 27, 2023
We all know that life can be challenging, and it’s hard to stay calm and focused when things get tough. It seems like every day there’s a new challenge in our world, and it can be very difficult to keep your head on straight.
But, taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health must be at the top of your self-care list. It is so easy to get pulled into situations and be influenced by external sources as well as others, that bring out our negative emotions, fear of the unknown, and when left unchecked could put us into a full-blown panic attack.
Learning how to stay grounded by implementing proven techniques are some of the best ways to de-escalate yourself and get through these challenging times.
Here are 10 best tips to help you get started.
Why Do We Need to Stay Grounded?
Remember when you were a kid, and your mom used to set limits on what you could do? Sometimes it seemed really unfair when she wouldn’t let you stay up late or eat ice cream for dinner. What happens in the body when we get upset?
When we feel frustrated or angry, our bodies react by releasing stress hormones. These hormones trigger a host of reactions in our body; we speed up, have trouble sleeping, breathing becomes faster and more shallow, muscles tense up, our heart rate increases.
As adults when we are upset, it takes concentration to calm down these reactions. When children are upset they don’t have that concentration yet. They need to be soothed with grounding methods in order for their bodies to calm down.
When we are grounded, our brains recognize that we are in the present moment. We can let go of worry about the future or rumination about the past.
Grounding is one of the most effective ways to calm ourselves down and get back to the task at hand.
How to Stay Grounded: 10 Grounding Techniques
A grounding technique is simply a method of encouraging yourself to remain in the current moment, and not get carried away by thoughts about the past or future.
They can be very helpful when you’re feeling tense, anxious, agitated, lost in memories of the past, or worried about what might happen in the future.
When you feel this way, grounding techniques can provide a sense of calm and balance. They are wonderful for your mental health and can be immensely effective when you’re in a stressful situation.
These techniques aim to create a sense of comfort and help you to feel more in control. You can use them to identify objects or visualize a calm environment, or they may simply evoke your senses so that your brain recognizes that you’re in the present moment.
1 | Identify Objects
One of the easiest ways to ground yourself is to identify objects in your current environment. For example, if you’re feeling jittery, look around and see how many objects you can spot that are red. If you’re able to find eleven or more, try counting them one by one until they no longer distract you from how you feel.
When you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the task of finding red objects.
As you count, take deep breaths and stay present in the moment.
Another example is to identify all the different types of flowers on a bush outside your window. The more detail, the better!
Of course, there are many other objects that you could focus on as well, such as different types of leaves on a tree or different shades of blue in the sky.
It doesn’t matter what the object is as long as it’s relatively small and somewhat distinct.
2 | Visualize a Calm Environment
Another great grounding technique is to visualize a calm environment. This can be any visualized environment that calms you down.
One example is to think of a slowly flowing river, with rocks and vegetation around it. You can see the ripples in the water as it flows by, smell the wet earth, feel your feet on the riverbank… The more detail the better!
When you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the image of the river. Take deep breaths and stay present in the moment.
It can also help to pick out some sounds that remind you of this environment. For example, you might hear water flowing or leaves rustling in a breeze. You may even want to try picking up on different smells in the air.
You can visualize any environment that calms you down, whether you’re identifying objects around you or not.
3 | Use Your Five Senses
One of the simplest grounding tips is to focus on one or more of your senses. For example, try listening carefully to the sounds around you and describe them in detail. Or identify objects by touch, feeling their texture against your fingers.
If you need a moment to calm down or get centered, simply focus on a single sensation for a moment.
You can also try imagining how your favorite food would taste, or what your grandmother’s house might have smelled like when you’d visit as a child.
This is a great grounding technique to use if you’re feeling agitated but unsure why, and it doesn’t require any objects around you. Just pick a sensation and let it slowly envelop you as you focus on it.
Finally, focusing on your sight is another simple grounding technique.
You can find an object around you and really take in its shape, size, color…
Or try staring at a single object with your full attention for several minutes. Notice how you feel.
If you’re having a difficult time focusing on an object, try looking out a window instead and watching the trees sway in the breeze or clouds crawl across the sky.
Whatever you choose to focus on, make sure it’s far enough away that your eyes don’t strain but close enough to see in detail.
You can also try staring at one point on the wall in front of you. Just focus on that single point until all other thoughts and stressful situations melt away.
When your anxiety is very intense, grounding techniques with your sense of touch and smell are often helpful. Try to identify textures on things in your immediate vicinity, such as pieces of clothing, the floor coverings, or even your skin.
Deep breathing can also help you get yourself back in control and feel grounded and calmer. Take a deep breath and let yourself sink into the sensations as you focus on them.
4 | Step away from social media
Many people spend time on social media, whether it’s on their phone or a computer. watching or listening to the news, or browsing a favorite website.
While these can all be interesting and stimulating experiences, they can also be a source of stress.
It can be immensely helpful to take a break from social media every now and then.
If you follow people on social media who are negative or have opposing opinions to your own, this can also have an effect on you.
When you come across stressful information like this, it’s best to step away for a while and de-stress.
Staying grounded in today’s world requires effort and attention, but it will help you feel more in control and better able to deal with the pressures you face every day
5 | Ground your thoughts
Grounding your thoughts is the most important grounding technique to use because it helps with all of the other suggestions and methods.
To do this,pick ONE of these questions and ask yourself that question:
- Where am I?
- What time is it?
- What day is it?
- Who am I with?
- What am I wearing?
- What am I holding?
Notice what you feel (physically and emotionally) as you answer the questions.
For example, if you’re in an empty conference room at work, your body is cold but peaceful. You notice that your anxiety has decreased significantly since you started bringing yourself back into the moment instead of letting yourself spiral into panic.
As you continue to access that peaceful place within yourself, your anxiety will decrease and the grounding effect will increase. The more you practice grounding techniques, the easier it gets to find your peaceful center when things start getting stressful in your day-to-day life.
6 | Walk
How can walking help you stay grounded? Focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground and feeling your whole body move with each step.
When you feel like you’re starting to lose control, take a moment to focus on walking. It’s a simple grounding technique that can help overtake any downward spiral towards panic or stress very quickly.
What else can walking do for you?
As you take a walk, try to notice all of the sounds around you. This is a great grounding technique for those who struggle with sensory overload and anxiety due to sensory processing disorder.
If your environment tends to be overwhelming or stressful (like near construction sites or highways), this will help bring your attention back to your immediate surroundings and away from the noise.
7 | Eat Healthy
Your body depends on a balanced diet to operate at its best, and eating healthy will help you stay grounded.
One of the most important grounding activities is remaining connected with all five of your senses as much as possible, and eating healthy (especially fruits and vegetables) is a great way to do this.
Instead of going for that sugary snack or junk food, try to focus on what you’re eating and really take the time to savor each bite.
This will help ground you because it draws your attention back into the present moment. And as a bonus, you’ll know that you’re feeding yourself healthy foods that are good for your body.
This will help you feel more energized and keep your mind focused on the present moment.
8 | Breathe
Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-respected expert in alternative medicine, believes that breathing is our most important life skill. While it’s simple to do, many people forget or just don’t bother to breathe properly.
Instead of taking deep, healthy breaths that help your body relax and remain calm, most people take short, shallow breaths that will only increase anxiety levels even more.
This is one of the best grounding activities to use pretty much any time because it’s so simple yet so effective.
- First, you want to take a deep, long breath through your nose.
- Fill your lungs with air and let yourself expand with the inhale.
- Be sure to not hold onto that breath when you exhale though because it’s common for people who are anxious to hold onto their breath without even realizing it.
- So then breathe out all of that air until you completely empty your lungs.
- Let go of all tension as you exhale, and repeat this until you feel calm again.
9 | Meditate/Pray
A helpful grounding technique that can be done almost anywhere, anytime. Meditation provides the perfect opportunity to bring your awareness back into the moment and away from those negative thoughts swirling around in your head.
How do you meditate?
Meditation is a simple but powerful grounding technique that can have an enormous impact on your daily life. Look around and notice where you’re sitting, what the temperature is like, how it feels to sit in your chair, and what smells surround you.
As with any grounding technique, try to bring yourself back to the present moment. Pay attention to your breathing and notice how your chest rises and falls with each breath.
How do you pray?
Prayers are often a grounding technique that people turn to in order to stay connected with something greater than yourself. This is a great grounding technique if you feel disconnected from God, or if you simply need some guidance.
Meditation and prayer can be very powerful, quiet ways to bring peace back to your mind and heart.
10 | Be Grateful
We often take so many of our blessings for granted without stopping to think about how lucky we actually are.
Take a moment or two throughout the day to sit down and do nothing but be thankful for what you have in life. Make a list of all of the things that make you happy, all of the things that you’re grateful for.
Think about your family, friends, and other relationships. Think about where you live and what it’s like to have a home. Reflect on your health, your education, everything that makes you glad to be alive.
This simple technique is something that can help anyone feel better when life gets overwhelming. It may not fix the problem, but it’ll definitely make you feel better if nothing else will.
Whether it is with family or your best friend, remaining in touch with those that mean so much in your life will keep you grounded.
In a world that is constantly changing, it can be difficult to stay connected with those around you. In the end, however, the love and support of those who matter most will help ground you and give you the strength to move past your anxiety and back into your daily life.
What if I don’t have anyone that I can connect with?
If you feel disconnected from the people around you, there are plenty of online communities where you can find positive support. Social media sites like Twitter and Instagram have thousands of accounts dedicated to anxiety and panic disorder, so finding a community is easy!
Final Thoughts: How to Stay Grounded
There are so many ways to stay grounded that you can use daily! The more tools in your toolbox, the better equipped you are to handle whatever life throws at you.
Remember to stay safe and healthy in these difficult situations. If anxiety is overwhelming, seek help from a professional or call 911 in an emergency. And remember that you are not alone – there is always someone who can help you!