We have all been in situations that make us feel anxious, frazzled, confused, and panic-stricken.
And yet, some of us seem better than others at dealing with influxes of drama, pressure and demand than others.
What is the secret to being cool, calm, and collected? And if there is a secret, how can we find our inner peace amongst the chaos in everyday life?
Don’t worry. Learning how to ground yourself in any situation is an invaluable life skill that is far less complicated than you might have originally thought. Let me show you how in this article.
Table of contents
What Does ‘Grounding Yourself’ Mean?
To ‘be grounded,’ or ‘grounding yourself,’ essentially means staying connected to the present moment without getting lost in thoughts or emotions. As the ground, or earth, is symbolic of stability and strength, staying grounded essentially means finding your inner roots, your inner connection to the earth.
Staying Grounded Does Not Mean Fighting For Control
Once upon a time I used to be completely dumbfounded and annoyed by those who breezed through life, seemingly impervious and infallible to the thousands of little dramas that arise daily.
I used to wonder whether this cool serenity displayed by certain types of people was a result of luck: perhaps they were just born as impenetrably-tranquil-demi-gods who were always, somehow, in control of life 100% of the time?
My mistaken belief that being grounded stems from being “in control” has led me down some pretty hairy paths. Eventually, after a lot of self-imposed anxiety, I learned that the key to grounding yourself doesn’t lie in controlling yourself, other people, or situations, but letting everything flow its natural course.
The paradox is that the more you try to control or resist a situation – whether by demanding it to be a different way, by desiring something else, or by forcing yourself to “look” a certain way – the more physical, emotional, and psychological turbulence you experience.
On the other hand, the more you accept a situation as it is – without trying to change it in any way, or change yourself in any way – the easier it is to remain centered and whole.
Ironically, the more you relinquish control, the more power you have, and the more control you seek, the less power you have.
Life is strange, isn’t it?
How to Ground Yourself in Any Situation (12 Ways)
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.– Khalil Gibran
If you are struggling to keep your feet on the ground and stay present, learn how to ground yourself in any situation with these empowering tips:
- Focus on your inhales and exhales
- Drink a hot, non-caffeinated beverage
- Eat something healthy, heavy, and sustaining
- Focus on something beautiful
- Hold something (or someone)
- Have a grounding affirmation on hand
- Be self-compassionate
- Practicing self-remembering
- Practice the “looking back” technique
- Incorporate somatic mindfulness into what you do
- Focus on the actual earth
- Create physical distance
I go more into depth below:
1. Focus on your inhales and exhales
You might have heard this advice over and over again ad nauseam … but don’t take it lightly! Focusing on your breath when learning how to ground yourself is one of the easiest and most immediate ways of centering yourself in the Now.
You might notice that when you are frenzied or bombarded by intense emotions your breathing becomes shallow and quick, stemming from the center of the chest. In order to ground yourself, focus on letting your breath become slow and soft. If it helps, repeat these words as a mantra (“slow and soft, slow and soft“). The goal here isn’t to control your breath, but to let it naturally and organically deepen.
You might even like to try some conscious breath counting. For example, if you are in a particularly tense situation, allow yourself to stop and start counting each breath you take, e.g., “One, (breathe), two, (breathe), three, (breathe), four, (breathe), five (breathe) …” until you have grounded yourself again.
See our article on breathwork for more guidance.
2. Drink a hot, non-caffeinated beverage
As mundane as this recommendation might sound, it’s surprisingly powerful. Heat is soothing and comforting, thus helping to ground us in the present moment (and in our bodies). When we put the simple act of drinking + heat together, the result is near-instant relaxation (or at the very least, more groundedness). Have some tasty herbal tea on hand – but ensure that it’s non-caffeinated. Caffeine tends to sensitize the nervous system, which is definitely something you’d want to avoid if you’re facing a stressful situation. My favorite grounding/relaxing teas include ingredients and herbs as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, damiana, and holy basil.
3. Eat something healthy, heavy, and sustaining
Not eating properly can lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and tension. As a basic form of self-care, make sure you get at least one healthy, heavy, and sustaining meal per day. Focus on consuming root vegetables such as sweet potato, turnip, carrot, beetroot, cassava, and yams. Being mindful of what you eat is more of a preventative practice, however, if you are struggling to find how to ground yourself in the moment, why not eat a big hearty meal?
4. Focus on something beautiful
Orienting to pleasure is a quick way of grounding yourself in any situation. When the mind is focused on beauty, it is much less likely to go into a spiral of fear or overwhelm. Look around you. What soothing, beautiful, visually appealing object or thing can you find? Perhaps you might focus on a ray of sunlight shining on the wall, a tree in the distance, a nice shade of blue that you like, or a pattern on someone’s clothing. Take a few moments to let the beauty touch you and ground your mind and body.
5. Hold something (or someone)
Pick up something interesting from your environment and observe it for a few seconds. Alternatively, if you have a pet or loved one nearby, hug them and focus on the warmth of this connection. You may also like to hold yourself in a self-hug – this is a great way of calming your nervous system.
Download FREE Ground Yourself Worksheets!
Go deeper with a grounding yourself journaling prompt + printable meditation mandala!
6. Have a grounding affirmation on hand
Affirmations are empowering statements that help to reprogram negative unconscious beliefs and infuse us with love, happiness, and confidence. It always helps to have a few grounding affirmations up your sleeve. If you don’t have any right now, some examples you could use are, “I am connected to the earth,” “I am safe,” “I relax and breathe deeply,” “I let go and let be.”
See our article on morning affirmations for more guidance.
7. Be self-compassionate
Often, whatever we’re experiencing is nowhere as bad as the tyrannical self-talk that is going on inside of our minds. How often have you been in a situation and your mind is whispering (or screaming) something like the following: “I can’t do this!” “I’m so damn pathetic,” “There must be something seriously wrong with me,” “I look like a moron,” and so forth?
Practicing self-love and self-compassion is an essential practice for learning how to ground yourself. Simply being more kind and understanding of yourself will help you face intense situations much better in the future.
One surprisingly effective way to start being more self-compassionate is practicing mirror work each day.
8. Practicing self-remembering
It is only by grounding our awareness in the living sensation of our bodies that the ‘I Am,’ our real presence, can awaken.– Gurdjieff
We’ve all been conditioned since birth to project and promote a certain image of ourselves to others. For example, your identity might be that of an autonomous, outspoken, and successful businesswoman or a thick-skinned, hands-on type of person who values efficiency.
Whatever the image of yourself is, it’s imperative for you to look beyond the veil of your ego’s beliefs, memories, ideals, feelings, sensations, and inner dialogues to your true nature.
Ask yourself, are you really something as finite, transient, and changing as the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that arise and fade each day within you? Stripping away your identity, your body, and your personality which all come and go, grow and die, brighten and dim, who are you? What remains?
Self-remembering is the practice of stopping yourself in any moment and asking, “Is this really me?” Once you learn that any situation, any person, any success or failure, any sensation is not really “you” and has nothing to do with who you really are, you can relax in the wholeness of your true Self. You can honestly realize that the nasty way your co-worker treated you, the failure of your exam, the pressure of having to make a good impression, all have nothing to do with “you” – only your fabricated identity which is subject to growth, change, and decay.
9. Practice the “looking back” technique
The looking back technique is very simple and works on the following premise: in 10-20 year’s time, will your current problem really matter? Most likely it won’t make much difference, and even if it does, has the problem permanently ruined your life? If so, you might like to reconsider what “happiness” and “success” mean to you and how they are helping or hindering you to live a fulfilling life.
The fundamental principle of life is that “everything will pass,” and so will your source of irritation, frenzy, or anger.
10. Incorporate somatic mindfulness into what you do
Somatic mindfulness is best paired with focusing on your breath which helps to anchor you into your body. Also known simply as “body awareness,” somatic mindfulness helps to redirect the energy you are focusing on your thoughts, fears, and emotions to the sensations in your body.
For example, when I’m feeling particularly ungrounded, I like to focus on my breath and roll my shoulders up and down. Focusing on my body in this way helps me to not only dispel somatic tension that tends to accumulate easily but also to center myself in the present.
Other people like to scrunch their fingers and toes into tight balls and release them, clasp their hands together, stretch their limbs, and many other body-centered techniques that are grounding and centering.
11. Focus on the actual earth
Learning how to ground yourself is intimately connected with the earth. What better way of finding that inner sense of solidity than going back to your primal roots?
To focus on the earth itself, draw awareness to the ground beneath you. Feel yourself being supported as you walk, stand, sit, or lie down. If you resonate with visualization, imagine your energy sinking deep into the earth, like tree roots. You can also pull up energy from the earth through your feet to help ground your entire body.
12. Create physical distance
Quite simply: walk away. Get out of there. While walking away from a situation is not always possible, it’s often extremely helpful to physically take a step back and wind down. This allows your mind and body to process whatever has happened. Finding solitude in nature is a particularly helpful way of grounding yourself and reminding you that life is so much more than your fears and troubles. Making solitary time for yourself each day is a good way of bringing everything back into perspective without getting lost in the details.
How to Ground Yourself Q&A
Try closing your eyes and focusing on your feet touching the earth. Stay connected to your body by pressing your fingers together, drinking a hot beverage, crossing your arms, breathing deeply and slowly, or simply walking away and sitting in a quiet place by yourself.
Those who walk the spiritual path and have experienced a spiritual awakening can often find their energy becoming airy, spacey, and even dissociated. If you often feel like you’re floating away, try drinking a big glass of water, eating some hearty food, and going out in nature. Stop your spiritual practice/focus temporarily and connect with your immediate environment. What can you see, smell, feel, hear, and taste?
Focus on self-soothing practices. Think about what makes you comfortable. Perhaps you need to listen to some calming music, wrap yourself in a heavy blanket, cuddle a pet, or take a walk in nature. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Becoming mindful of your self-talk will also help you to stay grounded if you have anxiety. Have an empowering affirmation on hand to help your mind settle such as, “I am centered” or “I am safe and supported.”
Learning how to ground yourself in any situation requires patience, discipline, and persistence. But while it takes genuine effort to center yourself, the good news is that you are just as capable of being calm and collected in daily life as anyone else and the recommendations I’ve made in this article will help you to establish a foundation for that.
What is your favorite way of staying grounded in overwhelming situations? Please share below in the comments. (You never know who you may help or inspire!)