Grounding for Stress Relief

When you’re worried, stressed, or anxious, what does it feel like in your body?

Anxiety can take many shapes. Sometimes it feels like our muscles are supercharged. Maybe our hands are tingly. Maybe we aren’t really noticing what’s around us.

Feeling grounded is the opposite. It means that we feel stable, aware, and connected to ourselves and our surroundings.

Research has shown that spending time noticing a physical object can help us move from an anxious state to a more grounded one. The good news is that any common object will work.

How to Practice Grounding

For this exercise, find an object around you that you can hold in your hands and observe. It’s best to find something small enough to pick up, so you can examine it closely. 

Don’t worry too much about whether you like it or not, or whether it was the right object for this exercise. Remember, this is about you getting grounded in the moment, not about the item itself.

Once you’ve chosen your object, let’s get started.

  • First, notice how your object looks.

    What color or colors does it have? Is it angular? Smooth? Can you see through it? How large or small is it?

  • Then, feel your object in your hands.

    Is it light or heavy? Is it fuzzy or prickly? Cold or warm?

  • Does your object have a smell?

    Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Strong or subtle?

  • If it’s food, go ahead and taste it.

    Ask yourself: Is it salty? Sweet? Bitter?

Now, put your object down. Take a moment to notice how you feel. It’s possible you’ll feel a little more present, or a little more in control. If you can take your object with you, do. Let it be a reminder to you of this feeling of being grounded.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

If you’re still feeling anxious, you can also try other exercises, like deep breathing or visualization. When it comes to calming down, experiment with many exercises to find what works. Certain things may work better for you in some situations than others.

And remember, you can use this practice any time you start feeling overwhelmed, with any object that's handy.

You can also watch this Mayo Clinic video with another easy grounding exercise.