What Keeps You Centered?

What keeps you centered?

pavmark2This is a question that I have been thinking about a lot.  And it’s a question that I ask a lot of my clients, and my friends.

If centered is not the right word for you, how about: grounded, balanced, focused.

Anxiety is one of the biggest issues that I usually work with clients on, and it is probably one of the most prevalent issues that friends and acquaintances ask my advice on.

Having something that daily centers us can help reduce the anxiety in our lives. I have tried to use this practice in my own life in various spheres.

So for example:

  • As a Christian, God, my life in Christ is what centers me, or helps keep me grounded. My dependence  upon, and relationship with God has helped reduce a lot of anxiety in my own life. That is sometimes hard for us to wrap our minds around. We think it, believe, know it (theologically), but to practice it is difficult. This can be practiced through a life of prayer and reading and meditation upon the Scriptures, worship, community, etc.

  • I also exercise as often as I can. Not as much as I would like to, but I’m working on it. When I ran back to back marathons in October 2007 and March 2008, I felt the most grounded, non-anxious and confident that I have ever felt. Exercise has a way of keeping us centered. I often recommend pilates, yoga, walking, running or some form of exercise to people as a way to center them and help reduce anxiety.

  • There are certain rituals that I like in the morning to help ground me. A cup of coffee in my hand at the beginning of my work day has a certain centering effect upon me. Rituals like long drives with great music playing also helps.

What works for you to keep you centered, grounded, balanced, well focused?

Share some tips….


  1. by dewde on February 18, 2009  8:31 am Reply


    Cheesy home movies or blog posts or taking pictures of my kids or home improvement projects. When I have time to create it recharges me.

    Small Group.

    My wife and I have weekly married people small group time on a weekly basis. This forces us to stop the spin cycle and dig deep, even if you don't have time.


    I fancy myself a thinker. The best way for me to exercise this is to read books and immerse myself in someone else's thoughts, so that I can bang myself against them.

    Making Smiles.

    In our family constitution one of my line items is "Keep a sense of humor." Laughter is a charitable gift we give to others, especially when it is at our own expense! (http://dewde.com/2008/10/i-wrote-the-constitution/)


  2. by AndyC on February 18, 2009  8:39 am Reply

    Staying centered, I need two things:

    Focus on God-quiet time in the Bible and in prayer every morning.

    Focus on others-looking at their needs not mine keeps me.

  3. by Bill Buchanan on February 18, 2009  9:00 am Reply

    Staying "centered" is synonymous with "living in the present" so anything that one does that causes you to focus on the now is an action towards being "centered".

    The "present" is where God wants us to live. Worrying about what is to come or what has transpired removes us from action . . . and we are called to act.

    For me - riding a motorcycle is the activity that most clearly calls me into the present. When one must be acutely aware of one's surroundings and the actions and movements of others will cause you to set aside what you must say or do tomorrow or what was said or done yesterday to insure your safety RIGHT NOW - is a very potent element to force you into the present.

    Sadly, my commute on the bike is far shorter than it used to be so I don't get as big of a dosage as I once did. Over the last 17 years about 12 of those years were spent commuting daily on a motorcycle in Dallas traffic and on the tollway.

    It was the most significant part of my day with God. I could more clearly listen to what God was impressing upon me during those times than any other. Personal issues were dealt with. Problems solved. Answers received. Peace achieved. I think my IQ even went up a few points (of course it quickly dropped soon after).

    During that time I also took several long, solo bike trips which served as the equivalent of spiritual pilgrimages for me.

    So - find something that requires your full attention in the present and being centered is the delightful by product.

  4. by Jason Taylor on February 18, 2009  9:35 am Reply

    So a bit of honesty...anxiousness is something I struggled with quite a bit a few years back. Actually a ton. It took some time to get it under control but here are a few things that helped me.
    1. Remembering the image of an Oak tree - Jeremiah 17:7-8 was a great verse for me. I wanted my roots to go deep so that no matter what was happening around me, whatever storm might come, my roots went deep enough to stand firm
    2. Exercise (no i didn't copy these from your post, they're just true!) Running, biking, whatever it is, is my #1 way to relieve anxiety. I'm not one of those that thinks alot when I run. I just run. I actually probably obsess about my pace or my stride or some aspect of running but this in fact fun for me so I don't mind. When I am finished I usually am much more prepared to wrestle with whatever is causing the anxiety.
    3. Talking to my wife: She is by far the most NON-anxious person I've ever met and so having her as a sounding board is a great gift. She's also not afraid to use a big stick when I need a whack.

  5. by Rhett Smith on February 18, 2009  12:50 pm Reply

    @dewde, awesome ideas! I like all the ways that you use to keep yourself centered...but I especially like the idea of creating. Something about the act of creating that I think brings out the imago dei in us almost more than anything...We are created beings in God's image and I think we were born to create. I also like the making smiles part. Very cool. Sense of humor is so important in marriage, parenting, etc.

    @Andy, great stuff. I think a lot of people need the early morning time to keep us centered, and that also tends to be the hardest time for me as well. So crucial though I think, to get our day off on the right foot. It can set the pace for the rest of the day.

    @Bill, I love the motorcycle stuff. I wish i had and could ride a motorcycle. Envious of that. I like long solo trips as well. I haven't done it on a bike, but other means. I would like to hear more about those trips someday. We should grab coffee soon.

    @Jason, lots of good stuff. Yeah, I think exercise is high on people lists. The exercising body can definitely help lower the body's anxiety. And the use of imagery and metaphor with the oak is great. And for sure, wives have a way of helping keep us grounded, centered and focused. Thanks for you posts...I appreciate them.

    Thanks guys...learning a lot from all of you.


  6. by jeremy zach on February 18, 2009  11:05 pm Reply


    Great question. I have a few quick strategies: Pray, solitude, walk, music, and working out.

    But if I am really stuck I really identify and clarify the situation and the exact emotion/mood/thought is destabilizing me.

    I step back and write out how I have been successful in the past. I try to replace the negative feeling/thought/mood with a positive and new outlook.

    In the end I know it will be okay because in the past it has always been okay. It really helps getting perspective and looking back to realize it is okay I am feeling nervous because the situation is stressful, but I am grounded in the reality that I have a pretty successful record in my past.

  7. Pingback : Step Into Your Anxiety If You Want To Grow :: Rhett Smith

  8. by Sovann on February 24, 2009  2:48 pm Reply

    - Daily prayer before getting out of bed.
    - Music/worship.
    - Exercise but it has to be play with others. Running and lifting by myself don't work because I keep ruminating on counseling and ministry-related issues without having to engage with others. Lately it's been basketball.
    - Reading in areas outside of counseling and ministry - lately a book on Jack the Ripper which hasn't really been something that grounds me as much as it's a distraction.
    - Family fun time - Settlers of Catan and pizza/movie night.
    - Constant re-evaluation of focus, mission, purpose and activity keeps me grounded.
    - Sports talk radio and UFC banter and news keeps me grounded/connected with my buds and not obsessing on counseling issues.

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