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Grounding Techniques

The term “grounding” in therapy refers to a set of techniques and exercises used to help individuals reconnect with the present moment and their physical surroundings. The primary goal of grounding is to help clients manage overwhelming emotions, reduce anxiety, and regain a sense of safety and control. These techniques typically involve sensory experiences that engage one or more of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) to anchor the individual in the here and now. Some techniques may work better for you than others, try a few different ones on this list!

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise

The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise utilizes all five senses. This technique involves first identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps bring awareness to the present environment.

4 Square Breathing

This breathing exercise is also called box breathing, and works as a relaxation technique to calm yourself down in the moment. First, inhale for four seconds, and then hold your breath for four seconds. Next, slowly exhale for four seconds, and then hold your breath for four more seconds. This completes the square. Continue this pattern for several minutes until you feel more calm and centered.

Progressive Muscle Relaxing

Progressive muscle relaxing helps you to become more aware of your body and its sensations. Start at one point of your body, and systematically tense and relax the muscles. Continue working your way through your body, tensing and relaxing your muscles until your entire body has released any physical tension.


Mindfulness meditation is another great way to become grounded. Mindfulness techniques during meditation encourage individuals to observe their thoughts and sensations without judgment, then letting those thoughts float away to promote awareness in the present moment.


Grounding through movement is a technique that involves using physical activities to reconnect with the present moment and reduce stress or anxiety. It can be particularly helpful when you're feeling overwhelmed or disconnected from your body. Movement-based grounding exercises such as walking, stretching, and dancing engage your body and senses, helping you become more aware of the here and now.

Sensory Activities

Focusing in on one specific sense can be a great way to become more grounded. The sense of touch can be used either by feeling different textures, or by using temperature awareness. For example, holding an ice cube focuses the mind on the cold feeling and how the sensation changes as the ice cube melts.

Utilizing the sense of smell is a different way to ground yourself. Smelling essential oils or familiar scents around you can help you to focus in on the present moment.

The sense of hearing can also be used to get grounded, noticing all the different sounds you are hearing. This can also be utilized in the form of listening to music and focusing solely on the song playing, identifying instruments and lyrics.

Taste is another sense that has the ability to help ground you. Tasting a sour candy makes your mind focus solely on the flavor, bringing you back into the present moment.

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