10 Grounding Practices When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

By Kelley Boymer
11 Sep 2023

Our world is a pretty overwhelming place these days. It feels like everyday our climate, government or society is in a dire state. Not to mention, everyday inequities and injustices that women, minorities and LGBTQ+ individuals face can cause immense mental, physical and emotional distress.

The feeling of overwhelm is all consuming and can make you feel completely out of control. It can make you feel defeated, burnt out, like you are drowning and you’ve just simply had too much. It blurs your vision, literally and figuratively, putting a dark tint on the world around you. It can affect your work, relationships and even the things you usually enjoy. When that overwhelm strikes, it is important to give yourself some time and space to reset.

Having some tools to turn to when your feeling overwhelmed is extremely helpful in getting through and past the overwhelm. Chronic overwhelm can lead to mental health issues so it is important to begin to address these feelings. Through my own struggle with anxiety, I have found many different practices to be helpful in grounding and connecting back into my body. If you are struggling with overwhelm, today’s post is for you. We are sharing practices to help you reconnect and center when feeling out of control.

Looking for more mental health recommendations? You might also like: The Best Things I’ve Done to Cope with Anxiety.

10 Practices to Ground When Feeling Overwhelmed

Yoga

Many of you know by now, yoga is my holy grail. I am a yoga instructor and it has completely transformed my life. I feel so fortunate to be able to share this passion and lifestyle with others each week. Yoga is a unique practice that allows us to get out of our heads and into our bodies. This ancient practice derives from India and syncs movement to breath. While yoga has been westernized in many ways, the traditional practice of yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice. Going to an exercise class like spin or barre is physically challenging and releases endorphins for your body, but it does not reach the spiritual connection to self that yoga does. There is this really lovely effect that yoga has that I call the “yoga melt” which leaves you feeling oozey and good all over. There is truly nothing better for overwhelm than that! If you’re not sure where to start with yoga, try a local class or online platform. I love Glo!

Journaling

Journaling is another transformational practice that can be so incredibly beneficial for overwhelm, stress or anxiety. We often keep so much locked up in our head. Our thoughts run wild and overtime it just becomes too much to bear. Finding a go-to journaling routine that works for you could be life changing. And here’s the kicker, you don’t have to be a “writer” to journal! Just jotting down notes, pictures and words, writing your stream of conscious– whatever works for you.

I have found using journal prompts to be really helpful and poetry is something that always provides a really beautiful release and sometimes some epiphanies arise as well. Morning Pages is a simple practice created by Julia Cameron that has been life changing for me. I don’t do it every morning, but when I am struggling with something or feeling particularly anxious it really helps get rid of all the junk in my head and get to the core of what is really bothering me. I cannot recommend it enough!

Walk

Going for a walk is such a simple easy thing we can do to reset when we are feeling overwhelmed. There are so many benefits to getting outside, especially early in the morning. In fact, getting that dose of morning sunlight has been shown to improve mental health, increase energy and improve sleep. Try to take your walk without listening to something on your headphones. This allows space for your mind and thoughts to be free. You could even practice a walking meditation by paying attention to your senses and tuning into the nature around you.

Things that were so common place to our ancestors now have fancy names like “earthing” and “forest bathing” but our ancestors practiced them for good reason, they improve our health. Earthing is a practice that simply involves connecting barefoot to the ground. Stepping into the grass or dirt and feeling the deep connection to our earth. Forest bathing is simply going for a walk in the woods and taking in the nature around you. All of these practices help us reconnect with the world around us and disconnect from things like our phones and technology which can cause us to feel stress and disconnect.

Dance

The movement of dance can provide such a beautiful release for our body. We move in such a different way when we dance. We move fluidly and gracefully opening parts of our bodies that we don’t often open. This can be such an intuitive and therapeutic practice to help release overwhelm. Sometimes stress get stuck in our bodies and we need to really shake and move to get it out. So pump up your favorite jams and feel into your body! Dance like no one’s watching and let that beautiful release happen.

Meditation

Meditation is probably one of the more challenging things to truly make a habit and take the time to incorporate into your life. But the benefits are numerous! Meditation brings us back into the present moment, it improves our self-awareness, lowers our heart rate, reduces negative emotions and increases positive emotions. I think what can make meditation hard to justify for some is you aren’t doing anything, you are literally just sitting there. You would think just being still and quiet would be appealing to most, but it is actually terrifying.

We so often run away from our thoughts and feelings and the thought of having to sit with this can make many feel uncomfortable. Many people also feel a need to constantly be productive and accomplish something like exercise or fitness. I love using the Calm app because the meditations are guided and focused. It helps me to get out of my head and gives me something to focus on. I often come back to the themes throughout my day and week as I go through life. You can choose 5, 10 or even 20 minute meditations depending on what you can make time for. Start small and you may surprise yourself!

Cold Water Therapy

I’ve dipped my toes in cold water therapy a little this summer. It is definitely easier when it’s hot out! Cold water therapy has proven to be so helpful for mental health. There is something about that shock of cold water to the system that causes a sharp inhale that resets the body. Cold water actually increases blood flow in the body which allows for healing physically, mentally and emotionally. You don’t have to jump into an ice bucket to do your cold water therapy. You can start by turning the water to cold at the end of your shower for just 30 seconds to a minute. You will find you can increase the time as your body builds resiliency. The key is to focus on your breath and the fact that the discomfort from the cold is only temporary.

Talk to a friend or therapist

Some of us just need a good vent session when we feel overwhelmed. Having a loving, supportive and trusting friend or therapist to air things out can be so helpful. When we feel overwhelmed, we may just need someone to empathize with us. If life is feeling hard, sometimes having someone validate your thoughts and feelings can help to move past them. Sometimes we also just need someone to give us some advice and help us move towards an action step. When we are caught up in our head, it is hard to think clearly and having someone grounded that can bring us back into our selves is so helpful.

TRE®

Jess and I are both huge TRE® fans! We were introduced to the practice by a friend of ours who holds classes around town. TRE® stands for Tension Release Exercise and consists of a series of exercises that aid the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. Consider how the body naturally shakes when in fight or flight mode. For example, many of us naturally shake if we’re feeling nervous, and this is a healthy mechanism that we have unfortunately moved away from.

TRE® is a practice that allows your body to come back to this natural state to release any tension you may be holding in your body from years of storage. Once released you will feel this beautiful sense of relaxation and peace. TRE® is such an amazing way to release and fairly easy to practice on your own once you have learned the exercises with a trained instructor. Learn more about TRE® here!

Practice Gratitude

Creating a gratitude practice in your day is something that can be so beneficial for mental health. When we feel overwhelmed we tend to forget about all the positives in our lives. A gratitude practice helps to remind us of everything that we have to be thankful for. It’s those small moments in our day that we forget about that can make such a difference. Gratitude can shift your perspective and create abundance in your life. I love my Habit Nest journal. It is a lovely practice to do right before bed to end your day on a positive note, even on those more challenging days. I find the prompts to be so thoughtful, insightful and perspective shifting.

Start a Morning or Evening Ritual

I go in and out of morning and evening rituals but I find my day always goes so much better when I make time for it. It can be really challenging with children and work/life demands to make time for these things, but I would highly recommend it, even if its just 15 minutes. When my son isn’t up at 5:30am I try to wake up and take my dog for a 15 minute walk, do a short meditation and fit in a little movement (pilates or yoga). I sometimes wake up in a bit of a funk and need this time to myself to ground and connect back into my body. I always feel so much more relaxed and content going into my day and am then able to handle any curveballs that come my way in a much more easeful way. Again, start small and keep your expectations low! See what clicks and make it work for you.

The most important thing you can do when it comes to your wellbeing is find the tools that work for you. Don’t be afraid to try some new strategies and pay attention to what works. Explore different classes, teachers and notice what clicks. Make connections with people who make you feel full and follow the paths that feel right deep down in your soul. I hope you can find practices that bring you some peace in times of overwhelm and just know you are not alone.

What practices do you find helpful when you are overwhelmed? We would love for you to share in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. suma gowda wrote:

    Hey Jess & Kelly,

    I really appreciate the articles you guys put together. They are genuinely meaningful and always worth my time. I appreciate your work.

    Regards,
    Suma

    9.11.23 | Reply
  2. Kerry Brighton wrote:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post on grounding practices when feeling overwhelmed. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s incredibly important to have strategies like these to maintain our mental well-being. Your suggestions, from deep breathing to grounding exercises, are incredibly valuable.

    I would like to add that online therapy services, like those offered by Calmerry: https://calmerry.com/online-therapy can be a wonderful complement to these grounding practices. When life becomes overwhelming, talking to a professional can provide additional support and guidance, helping individuals better cope with stress and anxiety.

    Integrating online therapy into one’s self-care routine can be a game-changer. It’s a convenient way to access mental health support, and it aligns perfectly with your focus on managing overwhelming feelings. Thank you for sharing these grounding practices, and for considering how online therapy can enhance overall well-being.

    10.30.23 | Reply

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