3 Grounding Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

What are grounding techniques? Whether it be anxiety, stress, or trauma, grounding techniques help control these experiences by turning attention away from thoughts, memories, or worries and refocusing your mind to the present moment. Thinking about the past of the future can create stress and anxiety but thinking of the present can help relax your mind and body.

5-4-3-2-1 Technique

When you use this technique, you are giving yourself a chance to anchor yourself into the now using your 5 senses. It gives you the opportunity to notice the small details your mind usually tunes out such as distant sounds or the different ways an object would feel.

What are 5 things you can see? Look for small details not large objects, such as a pattern on the ceiling, the way light reflects off a surface or an object you never noticed before in your immediate area.

What are 4 things you can feel? Notice how your clothing feels on your body, the sun warming your skin or the feeling of the chair you are sitting in (whether it is hard or comfortable). Pick up an object and examine its weight, notice how it feels in your hands, and other physical qualities.

What are 3 things you can hear? Pay close attention to the sounds around you. Some of those could be the sound of the AC running, trees blowing in the wind, or distant traffic outside.

What are 2 things you can smell? This one might be harder but try and notice smells in the air like the air freshener or freshly cut grass. You can also try an unlit candle, scented oils, or a flower for this part.

What is 1 thing you can taste? You can use a mint, gum, or a small snack. Perhaps an orange or a fruit which could work for both smell and taste. Focus your attention closely on the flavor.

Body Awareness

This technique will bring you into the here and now by helping you focus on the sensations in the body. It would help to pay attention to the physical sensations created by each step.

  1. Take 5 long, deep breaths through your nose, and exhale through puckered lips.
  2. Place both feet flat on the floor. Wiggle your toes. Curl and uncurl your toes several times. Spend a moment noticing the sensations in your feet.
  3. Stomp your feet on the ground several times. Pay attention to the sensations in your feet and legs as you make contact with the ground.
  4. Clench your hands into fists, then release the tension. Repeat this 10 times.
  5. Press your palms together. Press them harder and hold this pose for 15 seconds. Pay attention to the feeling of tension in your hands and arms.
  6. Rub your palms together briskly. Notice and sound and the feeling of warmth.
  7. Reach your hands over your head like you’re trying to reach the sky. Stretch like this for 5 seconds. Bring your arms down and let them relax at your sides.
  8. Take 5 more deep breaths and notice the feeling of calm in your body
Mental Exercises

If you’re looking for a more discreet way to practice grounding to take your mind off uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, these exercises are for you! You can use these at nearly any time or place. Experiment to see which works best for you!

  • Name all the objects you see.
  • Describe the steps in performing an activity you know how to do well. For example, how to shoot a basketball, prepare your favorite meal, or tie a knot.
  • Count backward from 100 by 7.
  • Pick up an object and describe it in detail. Describe its color, texture, size, weight, scent, and any other qualities you notice.
  • Spell your full name, and the names of three other people, backward.
  • Name all your family members, their ages, and one of their favorite activities.
  • Read something backward, letter-by-letter. Practice for at least a few minutes.
  • Think of an object and “draw” it in your mind, or in the air with your finger. Try drawing your home, a vehicle, or an animal.

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