relax, grounded, mindfulness

Relax and Get Grounded Quickly: Feet, Seat, Shoulders, Breathe

Sometimes you need to relax your mind and body QUICKLY. Stress can take a toll on your emotions and your long term health, so it is good to have a few strategies that you can use anywhere, anytime to keep your baseline stress level low before it becomes chronic. 

Imagine this scenario. You are running errands, racing against the clock, your phone is buzzing in your pocket and you are late to a meeting at work. Or you are trying to make an important phone call, the baby starts crying in the other room and you feel your blood pressure start to rise. There are 50,000 things to do today and no way you will get them all done, but right now they all seem like urgent priorities. Sometimes your thoughts ping from one thing to the next and you feel like your head is spinning. And that’s on a good day! Does this sound familiar?

Or maybe it’s the really big stuff like the death of a loved one, financial stress or the health of a family member that makes life feel unmanageable. Regardless of the specific stressors, we need a way to relax our minds and bodies and get calm quickly before stress takes a serious toll on our mental, emotional and physical health.

I know when I get stressed out like this I can make myself literally feel sick.

When we are under stress, our bodies start flooding with adrenaline, cortisol and nor-epinephrine. These chemicals are incredibly useful if we need to escape a lion, not so much if we are just trying to get through our day. When our stress levels remain high without returning to normal, our bodies lose their ability to recover and we enter a chronic state of stress. This takes a toll on our health, affecting mood, weight, sleep and cardiovascular health, among other things. If you are interested in learning more about the stress response and the effect on our bodies, read more here.

Stressed Out Americans

According to the American Psychological Associations Stress in America Survey, more Americans than ever are facing stress related to political and societal factors. Women and older adults (72+) have seen an increase in stress levels. The most common symptoms include irritability, anger, anxiety and insomnia. Not good symptoms to have if you are trying to, well, function as a human!

Here’s a way to bring your stress level down, relax and get calm quickly.

This will work for you, and it is also really great for your kids! I came up with the reminder “Feet, Seat, Shoulders, Breathe” as a way for my daughter to center and ground herself before a test, lowering her anxiety and helping her focus. It only takes a few seconds and no one knows you are doing anything!

Step 1: Feet.

Feel your feet underneath you. Simply notice where they are. Notice the color of your shoes. Feet the floor or ground underneath your feet and notice where they make contact. Notice the space between your feet and the surface below.

Step 2: Seat

If you are sitting, notice your lower body in the chair. Feel the weight of your body pressing down and notice the chair supporting you. Imagine gravity causing you to sink into the chair. If you are standing, you can do the same by imagining your legs grounding into the earth like a sturdy tree, rooted deep into the earth.

Step 3: Shoulders

When we are stressed, many of us hunch up our shoulders and clench our jaw like we are bracing ourselves. “You don’t want to wear your shoulders as earrings!” – a wise massage therapist once told me. Scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears, push them back then drop them down as if you are putting them in your back pockets. Let your shoulders relax, and notice how that opens up space between ears and shoulders and gives you a little more room to breathe.

Step 4: Breathe

When I am really stressed out, I finding that taking a deep breath can be really difficult and can even feel a little panicky. Instead, take a nice SLOW breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth nice and slowly. Once you feel a little more calm, then take a deep belly breath.

You can do this as often as you need to throughout the day. The idea is to try to stay on top of your stress and keep your baseline low so it doesn’t get overwhelming.


More stress resources

Click to access state-nation.pdf

Related articles:

A Calm Place Meditation to Lower Stress Quickly

Mindfulness to Go: 30 proven strategies to keep you calm on the run! 



I am a mom, wife, therapist, knitter, crafter and a lousy but persistent runner. I am always looking for ways to make mom life a little easier and a little more fun.
  1. Great read! I really needed this today. thank you.

  2. Ahh…I feel so much better! I also use a grounding mat to help me be ‘grounded,’ but thanks to your article, I am more aware, present and focused on my surroundings. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for this! Definitely things to remember in moments of anxiety that I often forget about.

  4. These are some amazing points. I use Yoga to relax and there are so many things you mention that I use throughout my practice. I really feel that it has improved my life. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks!

  5. This was so informative and totally what I needed to get me through this week! Thank you!

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  9. Wow, this was timely! I find that as I’m spending more time on the computer that my anxiety level goes up. Getting outside and walking works wonders for me, but come winter or on days that I just can’t get out I will try this! Thank you.

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