10 Best Grounding Techniques For Anxiety Related Disorders

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated March 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Anxiety can be overwhelming, and sometimes, it can feel extremely difficult to pull your mind out of its anxious thoughts. If you are experiencing anxiety, you’re not alone—anxiety disorders generally affect around 40 million adults in the U.S. each year. However, there may be techniques you can try to release these anxious thoughts and find a sense of calm. 

Grounding techniques, including physical and mental grounding techniques, often involve a range of practices to focus your attention on the here and now, such as meditation, moving your body, journaling, and deep breathing exercises. These practices may help manage feelings of stress and anxiety by calming the nervous system. Online therapy can also be an effective way to address anxiety and other mental health challenges.

Grounding exercises can relieve anxiety

How grounding techniques work

If you're feeling anxious or having a panic attack, you may find that your mind becomes consumed with intense fear, worry, or even distressing thoughts. Grounding techniques can bring you back to the present, offering relief in just a few moments and reconnecting your mind to the here and now rather than to your anxious thoughts.

Feelings of insecurity, restlessness, being disconnected from yourself or your surroundings, trouble concentrating, and looping thoughts can all be common symptoms of anxiety. Grounding exercises may take you away from these anxious thoughts and into the present, often by being mindful of what is happening here and now. This can make you feel grounded and connected to the moment and take you out of your repetitive, anxious thoughts.

A few grounding exercises may include deep breathing, meditation, and journaling. The same exercises may not work for everyone, but if you find some that work well for you, they may help you find relief in the moments when anxiety can become overwhelming. 

Mental vs. physical grounding techniques

Mental grounding exercises redirect your thoughts away from anxious thoughts toward activities that require mental engagement. These activities could be anything from naming objects in your surroundings to meditating. These activities may help your mind shift focus, allowing you to feel calm and more in control. Incorporating these exercises into daily life may even help you prevent anxiety and panic attacks.

Physical grounding exercises, on the other hand, involve using your body and senses to ground yourself. These grounding techniques can include exercises like holding an object to shift your attention or walking barefoot to connect with the ground. These actions may help your body feel more connected to the present moment, easing the symptoms of a panic attack. Regularly practicing these physical grounding exercises can create a sense of calmness that can be readily reached in moments of anxiety.

10 grounding exercises you can try to help with anxiety

There may be many grounding techniques to try when you're experiencing stress or worry. Included below are 10 techniques to consider, but you can also add to this list as you find other approaches that help you to reconnect with the present moment. If you familiarize yourself with these methods and they help you, you can have them in your toolkit anytime anxiety creeps up. 

1. Use the five senses technique or 5-4-3-2-1 method

One of the most common grounding techniques may be the five senses technique. In this exercise, you'll typically identify sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations. This can make you aware of your surroundings and help you feel more connected and in the present moment. One popular approach using the five senses for grounding may be the 5-4-3-2-1 method

First, find five things you can see, such as the poster next to you or the bird outside your window. Next, find four things that you can feel, such as the earth beneath your feet or the softness of your pillow. Proceed to three things that you can hear, such as the leaves rustling outside, distant traffic, or even your stomach grumbling. Then, identify two things you can smell, such as the scent of your linen or the shampoo you used in your hair. Finally, identify one thing you can taste, such as the aftertaste of toothpaste or a sip of tea. 

2. Practice deep breathing for anxiety

This grounding approach focuses on taking deep breaths. Breathe slowly and deeply from your core, and breathe out slowly, imagining all your worry leaving your body as you exhale. Sometimes, counting while breathing in and out can further calm your mind. You may find counting to four while inhaling, holding for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding at the bottom for a count of four to help refocus your thoughts and slow your heart rate.

3. Try meditation 

Another grounding approach you may wish to try is meditation, which can take many forms. If you are new to meditation, you might find guided meditation especially helpful, which can involve following along as a teacher explains the practice and leads the meditation. You can experiment with different types of meditation, such as a body scan, visualization, or mantra meditation, to find what works well for you. During a body scan, you might focus on clenching and relaxing different muscle groups. 

4. Focus on the present moment

There can be many ways to practice mindfulness, which usually involves paying close attention to where you are and what you’re doing. You might try tracing your hands around the physical outline of your body and being aware of your presence in the world. This can help you feel more connected to yourself when your anxiety makes you feel disconnected. 

Getty/Daniel Allan

You could also try eating or drinking something while focusing on the sensations. Is it hot or cold? How does it taste? You might also take a bath or shower and notice the experience. Try to concentrate on the sensations of the water on your skin or the smell of the shampoo.

5. Use music or sound 

Another grounding technique can involve listening to relaxing music or putting on your favorite song and paying attention to the lyrics or instrumentals. Try to focus on the song, paying close attention to each sound. Or, if you prefer, you can also try using your voice or calling a friend and hearing their voice. You can pick up a book and read aloud the first paragraph you see or call a friend and have a chat. The chat can be about anything at all but try to focus your attention on the words your friend is saying and the sound of their voice.

6. Touch something hot or cold

Another grounding approach to try may be to use different temperatures to focus your mind on the warmth or coolness of what you’re touching. You could run your hands under cold water, hold onto an ice cube, make a cup of hot tea and hold the mug in both hands, or use a heating pad on your back and focus on the temperature. 

7. Observe your surroundings

For this approach, you might take a close look at your surroundings and take note of as much detail as you can. You could look outside a window and notice the colors of the trees, count the cars, note the shapes of the leaves, and admire the clouds in the sky. If you’re indoors, you might notice the shape of a lamp, the color of your couch, and the pattern on your blanket. 

8. Practice gratitude

Another approach can involve focusing on specific things that you are grateful for and writing them down. You can list out five positive things in your life. These things can be big or small. Maybe you are grateful for the warmth streaming in from your window, the delicious cup of coffee you had that morning, or the friendship of a close friend.

9. Hold something comfortable

For this approach, you will generally find something comforting to you and hold onto it. It could be a pillow, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a smooth stone or seashell, a favorite t-shirt, or anything that feels nice to touch and brings you comfort. Try to think about the sensations you feel when touching it.

10. Move your body

Movement doesn't necessarily have to be intense or extensive. You could jump up and down on the spot or do some quick yoga poses. You might go for a walk or ride a bike if you can. Even simply changing your position can help you be more mindful. Change how you sit, stand up, or even just wiggle your fingers or toes.

Grounding exercises can relieve anxiety

Finding mental health support

While grounding techniques can be a helpful tool to have in your arsenal in the moments when anxiety arises, it may also be useful to seek help from a therapist to address the sources of your anxiety and create a more comprehensive treatment plan. For anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy and certain medications have both been shown to be helpful. As noted by the American Psychological Association, research generally shows that therapy may be more effective than medications.

Online therapy support options

If you are experiencing anxiety, the thought of calling around to find an available therapist and then traveling to a new location and meeting someone in person may feel very intimidating. With online therapy, you can match with a therapist online and meet with your therapist from the comfort of your own home. 

Research has shown that online therapy can be an effective option for those with mental health conditions. One research study examined the effectiveness of an online acceptance-based behavioral intervention using videoconferencing for individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD). It found that individuals who received the intervention experienced significant improvements in social anxiety, “with effect sizes comparable to or larger than previously published results of studies delivering in-person CBT for SAD”.

See below for some reviews of online therapists from individuals experiencing similar concerns.

Counselor reviews

"Shana was such a comforting, thoughtful, and helpful presence in my life when I felt like I was spiraling. She actively listened to my worries and concerns, I never felt judged, and at the end of each session she always gave me something on which to reflect in the coming week. I'm grateful for my time with her and can't recommend her more highly for anyone who's looking for a therapist/counselor."

"David has been my greatest support in navigating issues that were simply holding me back from being happy. Before working with David, I was suffering from anxiety due to relationship issues and career changes that were putting me in a bad place. We worked on everything step by step and I can say, with great gratitude, that I feel much stronger and happier now, after only a few months. I've managed to rebuild that strength in time with his help. He's also never missed a session and always went the extra mile to help with everything he could. Thanks, David!"


Anxiety can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there may be techniques you can use to try to find a sense of calm. With grounding techniques, you can use a range of practices to focus your attention on the present moment and your immediate surroundings. These techniques can include meditation, the 5-4-3-2-1 method, deep breathing, and more. For additional support with anxiety, online therapy can be helpful.
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