By Stephanie Elliot

In today’s world, it’s not unusual for teens to feel stressed. Whether you’re applying for colleges, worried about homework, dealing with personal problems, or stressed about social media pressures, anxiety and depression can hit hard.

There may be times when you are worried about situations you can’t control.How can you let those stressful thoughts not occupy your every-thinking moment? How can you be more mindful? What happens in these moments when you feel like you might be coming apart at the seams? How can you stay grounded?

Grounding is a term that’s used as a way to connect to yourself and be in the present moment—a way to focus on the here and the now. The act of ‘grounding’ yourself when you’re having uncontrollable emotions will allow you to focus on the present, and not worry about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future.

One tip that our family has learned through therapy is to use your five senses when you feel the need to ‘ground’ yourself. Smell, taste, touch, sound, sight. Sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and think for a moment. What can you hear? If you’re indoors, you might hear the click of the fan or the tick of a clock. If you’re outside, you might hear children playing, birds chirping, or an airplane flying overhead. Try to listen and mentally list the sounds that you can hear.

Next, open your eyes. What do you see? Is the environment a calming one? Are you indoors or outdoors? Can you focus on the colors around you, the clouds, the sky, the wind in the trees, a branch with budding flowers? Maybe you’re inside and there is a candle lit. Watch the flicker of the flame. Look at the varying colors of the flame and the candle. Be in the moment. Focus. Breathe.

Inhale deeply and concentrate on what you can smell. Maybe you’re in that room with the candle still … inhale and smell the scent. Is it vanilla? Or maybe a floral scent? Focus intentionally and think about the smell of the candle. How does it make you feel?

Use your sense of touch. If there’s an object nearby, grab it. Maybe there’s a small rock. Hold it in your hand and use your thumb and forefinger to explore how the rock feels. Is it smooth? Are there tiny ridges. Sometimes, if I need to ground myself, I will often just touch my fingers to each other, rubbing my thumb along my four other fingers, or I’ll wiggle my toes and concentrate on what that feels like. It’s enough to get me out of my head and focused on the present.

There are tons of ways to become grounded in moments of stress and anxiety and these are just a few quick tips to get you out of the stressful situation and into the present which can help to relax and calm you. Remember, you cannot control the past, you cannot predict the future, you can only be in the now. Be present. Be calm. Be mindful. Be well.