B089: How to ground yourself

By November 22, 2019The Simplifiers Podcast

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When you’re stressed or anxious, how do you ground yourself? And no, I’m not talking about the sort of grounding you get as a punishment (“Mary, you’re grounded!”), but rather the kind you do to calm yourself down. If you’re feeling the panic coming on or just in a high stress situation or feeling the anxiety rising, grounding yourself helps bring you back to the here-and-now present moment… and away from the Hot Mess Express train.

Earlier this week, I spoke with author Carly Pollack all about how to make self-care ‘non-negotiable’ through meditation and silence as part of our 5-part series together. And one thing that really struck me from our conversation was when she talked about the difference between self-care and restorative care. Yes, yes… pedicures and spa days are nice but restorative care is the deeper gift you give yourself that truly restores you and helps you feel more grounded.

But let’s face it… when you’re in a high stress situation and (especially) navigating ALL the things during the holiday season, it’s likely you’re getting triggered left, right, and center. So, how do we overcome the overwhelm?

It’s as simple as 5-4-3-2-1 to get plugged back into your body, back into your environment, and get yourself back to calm.

Let’s simplify that…


Here’s how to ground yourself – the 5-4-3-2-1 simple method:

  • five – 

This sensory awareness grounding exercise is simple to remember, especially when your brain may feel a bit scrambled or stressed. Counting down from five, here’s the first step. Describe five things you see in the room. Say them out loud. Activate your attention towards your vision. “Couch, laptop, sleeping cat, trophy, painting.”


  • four – 

Next, name four things that you can feel, right here and right now. For me, it’s “my feet on the floor” or “my belt around my waist.” Whatever you can sense or touch, call it out.


  • three – 

Now, I want you to name three things you can hear right now. Whether it’s the traffic outside or the heater flipping on. Maybe it’s a dog barking down the street. Whatever it is, what sounds are in your immediate space at the moment? 


  • two – 

Name two things you can smell right now. Good or bad, what scents are in the room or the space you’re in right now? Maybe it’s a whiff of air freshener or dinner on the stove in the other room. Maybe you’re sitting next to someone on the train who could use a breath mint. Name it… but maybe say this one under your breath, so you don’t offend anyone.


  • one – 

And finally, bring the focus on to you now. Name one good thing about yourself. What are you known for? What is one strength you naturally possess? Or if that one’s a challenge… name one triumph (big or small) you’ve had today. (“Hooray, I got dressed today!”)

To recap, how to ground yourself in the 5-4-3-2-1 method:

  • Describe five things you see in the room
  • Name four things that you can feel, right here and right now
  • Name three things you can hear right now
  • Name two things you can smell right now
  • Name one good thing about yourself

By the end of this simple, 3-minute grounding exercise, you should feel calmer and more present in the moment. Aim to take one deep, belly-filling breath in between each step and feel free to repeat the exercise more than once, if you need a little extra love. Try it with your kids, your co-workers, and share it with your frazzled friends.

What I hope you’ll find is this exercise works great in almost any high stakes situation, no matter if you’re about to take the stage and give a presentation or even if you’re battling insomnia and can’t get to sleep. Grounding yourself snaps you out of it quickly. You can also use it when you’ve got a serious craving coming on or you just need to calm your brain down as a relaxation technique after a long day’s work. I especially recommend this if you’re visiting family over the holidays, just sayin’.

One final whisper

I hope that the tools you learn about on our podcast really, truly help you and bring you peace. Every day, you are growing stronger and stronger. Brighter and brighter. You’re slowly getting yourself back to center, whether you’re aware of it or not. This is the healing process, you’re doing great, and bit by bit, this is how you become a Simplifier in your own work and life.

So, take what you need and leave the rest. In our tendencies to jam-pack our work schedules and find calm in our naturally NOISY lives, it’s so easy to get sucked into it all. But remember, you always have a choice. 

And it’s not about what happens to you today, it’s all about how you handle it. That’s how you ground yourself.

Continue to fill your magic tool belt with simple, practical techniques like 5-4-3-2-1 to help ground yourself… it’s here where you’ll learn to make better decisions which will compound and help you (slowly) to transform your work and life. 

Remember, you cannot control life. But you can learn to gain better control over your emotions and what triggers you. It takes practice, repetition, and a little bit of grace. And the good news is, these are all things you already possess.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

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Thank you!

Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Lyden Yardley, our Show Notes Editor, Kristin Castillo, our resident Superhero, and Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills, our advisory board. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for joining us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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