Grounding Yourself When Life Feels Chaotic
February 9, 2022 - Shauna Jurczak

Sometimes life can get overwhelming. Every day you have to focus a part of yourself on your own personal life, family commitments, and work. Now add in the heaviness the outside world adds – negative local news, the current political climate, and the economy, just to name a few. Needless to say, on the days where it all adds up, it can leave you feeling like you are stuck living in complete and total chaos.

Sadly, todays post can’t stop all the chaos around you, but it can help you learn to pause for a moment, ground yourself, and approach the chaos from a better head space.

Whenever my life starts to feel like too much, too heavy, leaving me frustrated or overwhelmed, I always remind myself of my second favorite quote of all time:

“You cannot control everything that happens to you; you can only control the way you respond to what happens. In your response is your power.”

From there, I typically find myself connecting back to the 5-Senses exercise, because even though I can’t control all the things around me, I can control myself and reclaim my power that way. I can ground myself, focus myself, and prepare myself to keep moving forward with a clear and rational mindset. You can too! How? Keep reading!

The 5-Senses Exercise

I’ve learned this exercise from a few people, but the first time I ever heard about it was from my friend, Courtney Mandock. If you want to talk about someone breaking barriers and living her authentic life amidst all the chaos, Courtney is it, and she is a total inspiration. She is a mechanical engineer, mental health advocate, and a beauty pageant queen, and I’m so glad she shared this exercise with me, because it works!

How It Works

The 5-Senses exercise is designed to bring your focus away from panic or worry, and back to you. It helps ground you and return you to a calm, rational headspace by checking in with your senses.

You can do it anytime, anywhere, too, which makes it an even better exercise to put in your tool kit. You can do it on an airplane if you have flight anxiety (I do!). Before going on stage for a performance or standing up for a presentation. In traffic when you are starting to feel a bit of road rage. Even at home when your kids are making you feel a little on edge after you’ve asked them to clean their room for the sixth time!

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, like you're about to lose it, or like you simply need to reground yourself, pause for a few moments to check in with your five senses:

Sight: Look around you – take note of five things you can see.

Touch: Use your hands – find four things you can touch.

Hear: Listen to the noises – notice three things you can hear.

Smell: Use your nose – recognize two things you can smell.

Taste: The flavors of life – acknowledge one thing you can taste.

For example, if I were to do this exercise right now it would look like this:

Five things I can see – Snow flakes out the window, my cat laying on the couch, a plant on the shelf I need to water, a candle, and my cell phone.

Four thing I can touch – My hair, my pants, my mug, and my computer.

Three things I can hear – My computer keys ticking as I type, my husband tinkering around the house, and the wind blowing outside.

Two things I can smell – It smells like “clean” in the house, and I can smell the coffee I brewed.

One thing I can taste – My coffee (Delicious! It’s caramel!)

Even just taking a moment now, to check in and write out that example, it helped me ground myself again. Two minutes before, I was interrupted by police outside on our street. Don’t ask me why. The world is a crazy place! They were helping my neighbor get “unstuck” from the snow, although I don’t think that was their original purpose. But I digress!

As you continue to navigate this ever-changing world, full of uncertainty and stress that you can’t control, remember, even if you can’t control it, you can control how you respond. That is your power. Starting with the 5-Senses exercise is a great way to refocus and ground yourself, giving you the power to respond in the best, most confident, and most rational ways possible. In turn, you'll be left feeling less stress and experience more progress.

So what are you waiting for? Put down the phone, tablet or computer you're reading this on, and take a minute to ground yourself using your 5-Senses to help you spark a better mindset and a better day.