Grounding Techniques

25 simple strategies for when negative thoughts become overwhelming…

Grounding techniques help people who are struggling with distress caused by:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Urges to self-harm
  • Traumatic memories
  • Drug or alcohol misuse

Grounding techniques help to connect you to the here and now when you feel overwhelmed by feelings of panic and anxiety. These techniques use your five senses to ‘ground’ you and allow you to take control of your feelings.


  1. Read a book or pick up a magazine or comic.
  1. Look around you to spot five objects all sharing a similar characteristic – five red things, five soft items, etc.
  1. Visualise the face of someone you love and trust. Conjure up their voice in your head and imagine the reassuring words they would speak to you if they were actually by your side.
  1. Look at your surroundings and describe them in detail. You can use everyday objects, like the patterned sofa in your living room – describe the look of the fabric, talk about the colours, describe the style of the feet…
  1. Put the TV on or stream your favourite feel-good show.


  1. Notice what you can smell, right here and now. Focus on the smell of cut grass, a pie cooking in the oven, a waft of perfume from a passing stranger…
  1. Take yourself outside and smell the flowers.
  1. Sniff strong peppermint, which is said to have soothing qualities.
  1. Wax melts can be soothing. Pick calming scents like chamomile and lavender.
  1. Savour your favourite scent – a warm mug of hot chocolate, freshly-laundered clothes, a scented candle… Note how the scent makes you feel and see if you can work out whether it’s sweet, sharp, musky, fruity, spicy, or floral.


  1. Call a friend or family member to hear their voice.
  1. Play soothing nature sounds, such as the rainforest noises, crashing waves or whale calls.
  1. Put your headphones on and play your favourite familiar music.
  1. Close your eyes and listen closely to your surroundings. Can you hear a dog barking, a passing lorry, birds chirping in the treetops?
  1. Read a book or newspaper article out loud. The sound of your own voice can help to ground you and reading distracts you from anxious thoughts.


  1. Take a square of chocolate and let it melt slowly in your mouth. Focus on how it tastes and how the chocolate feels on your tongue.
  1. Bite into a zesty fruit like a lemon or a lime. It shocks the tastebuds and snaps you into the here and now.
  1. Roll a block of ice in your mouth and focus on its smoothness and coldness.
  1. Pour a glass of your favourite drink and savour it slowly or take small, slow bites of your favourite food. Focus on the taste and the feel of it in your mouth.
  1. Suck on a mint or chew gum.


  1. Plunge your hands into water. Try warm water and then switch it to cold water. Focus on the different temperatures and how it makes your skin tingle.
  1. Reach out and touch a nearby object. Note how it feels and concentrate on the texture.
  1. Find a blanket, scarf, or piece of clothing with a pleasant texture and gently stroke it between your fingers. 
  1. Pop bubble wrap or play with a fidget toy.
  1. Pet your favourite four-legged friend. Stroking a dog or cat can soothe anxieties and make you feel calmer.

For more help and advice on anxiety, click here and discover our top five apps for anxiety here!


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