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The Transformative Power of Grounding Techniques

Have you ever experienced a time when you felt anxious, overwhelmed, or disconnected from the present moment? It’s as if our thoughts are caught in a whirlwind, swirling between the worries of what lies ahead and the weight of what is left behind in our past. We are left feeling like we are out of control.

Grounding techniques offer a way to anchor ourselves back into our bodies, providing a sense of calmness, peace, and stability.

Grounding can help:

  • Alleviate acute symptoms of stress
  • Interrupt anxious thought patterns
  • Pull our minds away from distressing memories or flashbacks
  • Reconnect with our surroundings when we become detached or disassociated

Follow along as we explore the purpose of grounding, how to ‘get grounded’ during turbulent or emotionally challenging moments, and practical grounding tips that you can bring with you into everyday life.

What are Grounding Techniques?

Grounding is a powerful tool to help us find our footing, in an emotional sense, and regain our inner balance during challenging moments. 

Also known as earthing, grounding techniques help individuals connect their psycho-physical experiences to the present moment, fostering a sense of presence and awareness. In other words, they help us anchor our attention to physical sensations, emotions, and surroundings, which redirects our attention to the here and now.

Grounding techniques are beneficial for anyone who may be struggling with:

Ultimately, the goal of grounding is to bring about a change in an individual’s sense of security and self-awareness – particularly when we feel out of control or disconnected.

How To ‘Get Grounded’

Incorporating grounding exercises into our daily routine can help us build resilience and cope more effectively with challenging emotions or situations.

Read more below for some of the most popular grounding techniques.

Body Scanning

This technique works to redirect our attention to different parts of our body, starting from the toes and moving upward toward the head.

How to do it:

  • Find a comfortable space where you can sit or lay down on your back, relaxing and focusing on your inner world
  • Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath as you relax and center yourself
  • Begin by focusing on your toes, noticing any sensations you feel in this area, such as warmth, tension, etc.
  • Without trying to change the sensations, move upward and bring your attention to the next part of your body, such as your feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, and so on
  • As you make your way up to the crown of your head, notice the areas that are tense or uncomfortable, pushing each breath into these areas to help release tension
  • Continue scanning your body for 1 - 2 minutes, allowing yourself to bring awareness and acceptance into each part one by one

Bringing conscious awareness into our body, without passing judgment or becoming critical of the feelings, can help reduce stress and relax our senses.


Also known as ‘self-soothing’, this grounding technique involves the use of gentle physical gestures to comfort and reassure ourselves during distressing or high-anxiety moments.

How to do it:

  • Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable space where you can sit or stand without any distractions
  • Place one or both hands on different areas of your body that feel soothing to you (i.e. on your heart, over your belly, across your forehead, etc.)
  • Apply gentle pressure with your hands as you notice the sensation and warmth of your touch
  • Take 1 - 2 slow, deep breaths into your belly as you continue to hold yourself in a way that is nurturing and helps you relieve tension in the area
  • Remain quiet in this position as long as you feel necessary, allowing yourself to experience the sense of safety and reassurance that self-holding provides

A 2022 study found that self-soothing or touch-based techniques can help relieve anxiety by stimulating the vagus nerve and relaxing the autonomic nervous system activity.

Visualization Exercises

Our minds are powerful tools that can recreate how we feel in our current realities. Through visualization exercises, we are capable of transporting ourselves into a state of calm and balance.

How to do it:

  • Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can relax without interruption
  • Close your eyes and take 3 - 5 deep breaths into your belly to center yourself
  • In your mind, visualize a peaceful and safe place that brings you comfort (i.e. on a park bench with a view, at a quiet beach, on a mountaintop, etc.)
  • Imagine yourself in this space, surrounded by beauty, warmth, and welcoming sensations
  • Notice the sights, sounds, and physical experiences of this imagined space as you immerse yourself deeper (i.e. the glistening water, birds chirping, gentle breeze, etc.)
  • Remain in this visualization for several minutes as you feel yourself relax

Visualization techniques are often used in therapy as a way to improve self-awareness and boost positive self-attitudes in individuals struggling with anxiety, stress, and depression.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Technique

This unique exercise helps to bring awareness to your five senses by isolating each one and actively attending to them one at a time.

How to do it:

  • Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit or lie down without distractions
  • Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, holding for a moment, then exhaling slowly through your mouth
  • Begin by looking around and making a mental note of:
    • 5 things you can see: such as objects in a room or animals in the yard
    • 4 things you feel: such as the texture of your clothing or the warmth of sunlight on your face
    • 3 things you can hear: such as the rustling of the leaves or the humming of the dishwasher
    • 2 things you can smell: such as the aroma of coffee brewing or the scent of fresh-cut grass
    • 1 thing you can taste: such as peppermint toothpaste or a sip of ice-cold water

By actively engaging the senses in this way, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique helps to anchor attention to the present moment, promote relaxation, and alleviate feelings of anxiety or overwhelm.

Grounding Box

This is a lesser-known tool that is often recommended by therapists as a way to bring one’s awareness into the five senses. Similar to the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique, the grounding box uses physical items to ground ourselves.

How to do it:

  • Choose a container or box that will fit 5 small items inside
  • Throughout the day, gather a variety of items that help engage your 5 senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste)
  • Each item should evoke feelings of comfort, safety, and relaxation in you (i.e. a soft piece of fabric, a vanilla-scented candle, a textured stone, a photo of a loved one, etc.)
  • When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or disconnected from yourself, take a moment to sit quietly and explore each item in your grounding box

It’s important to keep in mind that grounding techniques can take time. Be patient with yourself as you explore these techniques and find out what works best for you.

How Therapy Can Help

Therapy can offer an additional level of support for those utilizing grounding techniques by providing a structured and secure environment to explore and apply these methods under professional guidance.

At On Your Mind Counselling, our licenced therapists work with you to uncover the underlying emotions or triggers that contribute to your emotional challenges or distress. Developing a deeper understanding of mental health concerns and learning how to implement grounding techniques in real-life scenarios can lead to enhanced emotional regulation and resilience over time.

Click here to book a free 30-minute session to learn more.

Written by Robin Johal MSW, RSW, HBA

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