Steps for Grounding Yourself

Exercises to help you manage stress and feel grounded by WHO

By Google Arts & Culture

World Health Organization

The Scream (1910) by Edvard MunchThe Munch Museum, Oslo

Experiencing stress

Everyone experiences stress at times. A little bit of stress is not a problem. But very high stress often affects the body. Many people get unpleasant feelings. Other people find their body gets sick – skin rashes, infections, illnesses or bowel problems.

Art Project with ISIS Survivors, Iraqi Kurdistan by Hannah ThomasThe United Nations

Common effects of stress

When you are stressed, you may find it difficult to focus, get angry easily, have difficulty sleeping or feel sad. You can also feel very tired or experience changes in appetite.  

Oyster Shucker (Republic of Korea/Since the Liberation of Korea) by unknownNational Folk Museum of Korea

Feeling hooked

You may think a lot about bad things from the past or bad things you fear in the future. One moment, you might be enjoying sharing a meal, and the next moment, you might be hooked by angry thoughts and feelings. You may feel as if you are being pulled away by anger.

Portrait of a coffee-drinking lady (1742-1827, 1789) by Felix Maria DioggBöttcherstraße Museums

Learn to focus and engage

To better manage stress, you can learn to focus, engage and pay attention better. You can practise these skills with any activity you do. For example, if you are drinking tea or coffee focus your full attention on it, savour the smell of it, sip it slowly...

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) by Rembrandt van RijnIsabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Grounding yourself

When stress is overwhelming, we call it can turn into an emotional storm. Grounding yourself through engaging with the world around you, can help you manage emotional storms. First, notice how you are feeling, then slow down and connect with your body.

Konasana IIThe Yoga Institute

Step 1: connect with your body

Slowly press your feet into the floor. Slowly stretch your arms, or slowly press your hands together.

Coloured Powder in MarketsNational Council of Science Museums

Step 2: Refocus on the world around you

Reconnect with your senses.
What are five things you can see?

What are three things you can hear?

Breathe the air. What can you smell?

Notice where you are and what you are doing.

Touch your knees, or the surface beneath you. Notice what it feels like under your fingers.

Improvisation 26 (Rowing) (1912) by Wassily KandinskyStädtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau

Step 3: Acknowledge your feelings

So notice there are difficult thoughts and feelings appearing and there is also a world around you that you can see and hear and touch and taste and smell. Grounding does not make your emotional storms disappear. It just keeps you safe, until the storm passes.

Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890) by Vincent van GoghNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Resources

Find here the an illustrated guide on "Doing What Matters in Times of Stress" by the World Health Organization.

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