Managing Stress Using Mindfulness

This post, part of our special series on the Coronavirus outbreak, was written by Kate Endries, MSW, licensed social worker and BGCA Health & Wellness Director.

If you are anything like me, these last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. That emotional tornado that you are experiencing is perfectly normal, and valid. Every day seems to bring something new to worry about, and challenge to overcome. As we all begin to settle into our new normal , it is important to create space for self-care. Deep breathing, exercise, and grounding are just a few examples of ways to do this.

Grounding is a mindfulness technique that can help you slow down your mind and body by focusing on what is happening around you. It can be helpful when experiencing racing thoughts, unwanted memories, and strong emotions, like fear, stress, anger, and sadness. Grounding does exactly what it sounds like – itgroundsyour mind and body in the present moment, forcing you to think about what is happening around you and not about what has happened in the past, or what will happen in the future.   

Grounding is a great stress management tool because it can be used anywhere at anytime. The techniques are helpful for managing your own stress and can be easily taught to youth to help them manage their strong emotions. When you sense your mind and body getting a bit overwhelmed, consider using one of these strategies: 

  • Anchoring Phrase:  I’m [Full Name].  I am [X] years old.  I live in [City, State].  Today is [Day, Date].  It is [Time] o’clock.  The sun is shining outside.  I can hear cars passing by.  I am sitting at my desk working on my computer….” Keep adding to the phrase until you feel grounded to the moment and your surroundings. 
  • Paint the Picture: Describe in as much detail as possible your surroundings.  “I can see a black tv with the a commercial for shampoo playing.  The volume is on mute.  It is sitting on a light brown wooden cabinet.  There is a dog laying down in front of the cabinet sleeping.  The dog is brown, white, and black.  She has short ears, a thick square head, and a long tail.  I can hear the dog snoring…” 
  • Feel Your Body: Focus on how your body physically feels by noticing each part.  Can you feel your hair in a ponytail?  Glass on your nose? Your shirt touching your skin? Your toes in your shoes? Do your shoulders feel tight and tense, or soft and relaxed? Can you feel your chest raise and fall as you breathe? And so on.  
  • Get A Drink: Take small sips of cold water and notice how it feels.  How does it feel when it touches your lips? Fills your mouth? Touches your tongue? Slides down your throat? Fills your belly?  
  • Breathe: Notice how your breath feels as it fills up your body, and as you release it.  We did a whole post on breathing here!

Take a moment of self-care by practicing one of my favorite mindfulness techniques: 

5 Sense Grounding

  1. Find somewhere comfortable sit and relax. 
  2. Focus on your breathing – taking 3 deep, slow breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  3. Look around you and identify 5 things that you can see – saying it out loud, or silently to yourself.  For example, shiny phone, blue blanket, brown table, white wall, colorful picture 
  4. Take slow, deep breath – in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  5. Look around you and identify 4 things that you can touch – saying it out loud, or silently to yourself. For example, soft blanket, hard floor, squishy chair, fizzy dog.
  6. Take a slow, deep breath – in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  7. Look around you and identify 3 things that you can hear – saying it out loud, or silently to yourself. For example, car horn, birds chirping, my breathing.
  8. Take a slow, deep breath – in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  9. Breath in deeply and identify 2 things that you can smell – saying it out loud, or silently to yourself.  For example, my shampoo, a candle.
  10. Take a slow, deep breath – in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  11. Pause to think about one thing you can taste – saying it out loud, or silently to yourself.  For example, coffee.
  12. Focus on your breathing – taking 3 deep, slow breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. 
  13. Check-in on how you are feeling.  
  14. Repeat the grounding exercise as many times as needed. 
Image Credit @gmf.designs

If you find yourself or someone you know in need of additional support during this difficult time contact:

  • Comprehensive resource database that connects you to specialists in your area to find the services and support for your specific needs
  • SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline1-800-985-5990: 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
  • Crisis Text Linetext “club” to 741741: 24/7, 365 day-a-year, national text line dedicated to providing immediate crisis text support for people who are experiencing emotional distress
  • Mental Health America: Find services and support in your area, learn about more about mental health and wellness on their website.

Check back in with the ClubX Blog often for more ideas and resources on how to maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time.  Stay safe.  Wash your hands.  Take care of yourself.  We are in this together! 

Get the latest updates from BGCA at, find programming ideas at, like the BGCA Youth Development on Facebook for YD updates including video from Sarah, and join the brand new BGCA Youth Development Community also on Facebook to connect with other Club staff on programming through coronavirus.

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