10 Tips for Staying Grounded

Try these simple daily practices to help master stress.

Image by Billion Photos on Shutterstock

Have you ever felt so stressed that you can’t remember what calm feels like, or even how to breathe deeply? Maybe you’re there right now.

I know that when I’m so caught up in the hamster wheel of obligation, speculation, self-doubt and anxiety that I’m no longer conscious of my shoulders tense and hunched up toward my ears, of my emotions churning and thoughts spinning—it takes awareness to break the cycle.

I start by reminding myself that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can always ground myself by focusing my attention on my posture and breath. When my go-go-go is brought to an abrupt halt by a line at the grocery store, or I’ve otherwise hit a wall and find myself completely overwhelmed—the simple practice of focusing on my breath and releasing tension helps me center and slow down with purpose.

The more I practice mindfulness each day, the more likely it is that calm will be within reach when stress threatens to knock me down. So, if you’re looking for small ways to work peaceful moments into your routine, here are 10 suggestions.

10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness

1. Focus on your breath and posture.

This is my #1 go-to tool, and I can’t recommend it enough. Bring your focus to your breathing a few times a day, even when you don’t feel particularly stressed. Notice where you are holding physical tension as you inhale deeply. Then let go of it on the exhale as you allow your shoulders to relax and slide down your back. Continue for several minutes and notice the tension start to dissipate. You can do this sitting, standing or lying down—at any time and wherever you are. Even right now.

2. Take a walk.

Whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or more of an evening stroll, be present in your surroundings rather than caught up in your head. Notice the buildings, landscape, people, colors and sounds.

According to a recent Harvard Health article, you’ll enjoy additional health benefits as well.

3. Practice mindful eating.

Pay attention to the texture and taste of each bite and how it feels in your mouth. Practice chewing slowly and intentionally as you focus solely on the act of eating.

As a bonus, thoroughly masticating your food is also linked to better digestion and enhanced energy expenditure.

4. Push pause on technology.

Put down the smartphone. Tune in to what’s happening around you, instead. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel?

Notice how difficult it is to press pause in this way, as well as any change in your level of distraction or focus. Over time, can you expand your technology-free windows?

5. Do the dishes (or another simple task).

Rather than looking ahead to the next item on your To-Do list, focus only on the task at hand. Feel the soap against your hands and the warm water as it runs across each dish. As your mind drifts, bring it back. You may have to do this 50 times, but the more you practice staying present, the easier it becomes to keep a mindful focus.

6. Just sit there.

Resist feeling obligated to be productive or do anything besides just sitting there with your thoughts and feelings. Try to observe whatever comes up rather than placing blame or making judgments. You can sit outside and watch the birds or inside and stare at the wall. Get as comfortable as you can simply existing.

7. Stand up and stretch.

Focus on the areas that feel the most tense: your neck, shoulders, lower back or hips. Now, move around a little. Spending just a few minutes every hour doing so will help lubricate joints and remind your body to make adjustments to create more physical ease.

8. Pour yourself some hot tea.

The very act of drinking a hot beverage encourages you to slow down. Before moving on to your next task, be mindful of the way the warm mug feels in your hand and the flavor and aroma of the drink. Enjoy each sip with the intention of taking a pause. Breath in the steamy scent, and as you breathe out, let go of tension.

9. Focus on being present with someone.

Engage in a conversation and actually listen to the speaker’s words. Pay attention to the unspoken language as well (e.g., facial expressions, hand movements and posture). Ask questions and clarify statements. Show compassion. Try to really understand where the other person is coming from.

Or spend time doing something with your child, grandchild or another friend/relative that they really love. Play a game or go on a walk together. Keep your focus on interactions with them. Every time your mind drifts, refocus and recommit to being present.

10. Journal your impressions or reflections.

Jot down the sense details you took away from one of the previous exercises. You can write in full sentences, bullets or try your hand at poetry. Describe a scene, or distill the sense experience to key phrases. This practice should heighten your overall awareness over time.

You could also reflect on an event that triggered you or otherwise raised questions. Again, the goal isn’t to judge or come to any sort of conclusion, but to sit with your thoughts and experiences and try to see them for what they are. Rather than shame or blame, lean heavy on compassion.

Do you have a favorite activity that helps you calm down when you’re under stress? How about a daily mindfulness practice that helps you manage it? If so, please share it in the comments.

Take good care : )


Learn more about my approach to cultivating inner peace with my free Practical Pathways to Inner Peace videos.