15 Techniques of Grounding to Calm Your Distressing Thoughts

Prabhleen Gupta

Prabhleen Gupta

Founder- Personal Mastery


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Grounding is the technique that helps you pull out from the intensity of any emotion. It takes the emotions like anxiety, or stress out of our head by distracting us to other things. Grounding is the best method to take us away from the unwanted memories, flashbacks of the past, and the past situations that stress us out.

Grounding is the way to distract ourselves from the things and situations giving us anxious thoughts. It helps us to connect to the present and focus on the things around us at the moment rather than crying over the past.

Grounding techniques help us deal with the overwhelming emotions such as:

• Disconnection with oneself
• Anxiety
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Urges to harm oneself
• Unwanted memories

Techniques that help you distract; Physical and Mental techniques

Physical techniques

Dip your hands

Putting your hands in water is the simplest grounding technique that helps you distract yourself from anxious thoughts. First, put it in the cold water and feel the temperature. Focus on the sensations your hand is feeling and then switch to the warm water. Notice the difference your hand feels after switching from cold to warm. Also, pay attention if the whole hand is feeling the same temperature or is there any difference.

Hold the things near you

Try picking up the things that attract you to your surroundings and feel their touch. Pay attention to their weight, and color. Notice if they are hard or soft, heavy or light, and hot or cold. Try identifying the uncommon colors and name them, for instance, burgundy, turquoise, crimson, and so on.

Take deep breaths

Deep breathing is the best exercise that can help you calm down the fastest. You just need to focus on each breathe while inhaling and exhaling. Feel your breath coming in and going out and for the better focus you can also say loudly “in” and “out”. This whole process is very calming and takes the stress out of your head.

Eat your favorite food

Savoring your favorite food item or drinking the drink of your choice is the best method to relax and calm yourself. Relish each bite as you take it and every sip of your drink. It reduces stress to a great extent and puts you in a good mood automatically.

Go for a run or walk

If you feel that things are getting out of hand and you cannot handle your emotions anymore, then storm out and go for a walk for some time and come back with a calm mind and fresh body. While walking, focus on every step you take forward and get indulged in that rhythm that your footsteps are making. The idea is to feel every movement of your legs and arms and distract your mind.

Attempting 5-4-3-2-1 method

The 5-4-3-2-1 method helps in reducing stress and helps us focus on the present. It takes the anxiety out of the head and allows us to feel things by keeping our senses open. Let’s get into the details of this technique.

5 things that you can see

First of all, you need to acknowledge any 5 things in your surroundings that you can see. For instance, you can consider any photograph that you like and that reminds you of your fondest memory. There might be other things like your book, pen, or your favorite piece of cloth. Focus on them and try diverting your mind.

4 things that you can touch

Then, move on to the next step and touch any four things that you like and feel their texture. It can include anything starting from your body parts to your bed (if at home) or your desk (if at the office).

3 things you can hear

The next step is to focus on any 3 things that you can hear. It’s better to listen to the things that reduce your stress and give you a pleasant moment. It can be anything for instance; listening to the typing sound of the laptop if you are at work, or the car noises nearby, and so on. It can be any external sound that distracts you for the moment.

2 things you can smell

The next step is to smell any two things in your surroundings, which can be tough as compared to other steps. Finding a scent that pleases you can be tough sometimes. But you can go for perfume if you carry it or soap will also work. You can also sense the smell of the furniture. Try identifying the different smells around you and focus on any two.

1 thing you can taste

Then, there is the last step where you have to taste anything around you. It does not necessarily be the food item but any eatable that you can taste available at the moment. Try tasting something different from your routine food item and get your attention instantly.

Mental techniques

Mental techniques are those that do not involve your body movements as much but the mind tricks that help you distract your mind to reduce stress and anxiety.

Testing your memory

Playing the memory can help distract your mind and also it sharpens your memory. For instance, you can pick any photograph that has several visuals in it. Look at the picture for 5 to 10 seconds, then turn it in. Now try imagining the picture in your mind and recreate everything you have seen in it.

List down the things

Think of any two different categories in your mind and then list down the things that come into that category. For instance, you can think of cars and list down different cars that come under that category, or different flavors in ice cream. It will keep your mind busy for a while and help get stress out of your head.

Laughing exercise

Try making yourself laugh even at silly jokes. Tell yourself a joke or remind yourself of any situation that made you laugh in past. This is the best way to take your mind off of the things that overwhelm you and keep you anxious. You can also watch your favorite TV show or cartoon that puts you in a good mood instantly.

Use numbers to keep you busy

Numbers can be very time-consuming and mind distracting. They involve us instantly in the calculations. So, this is the best mental exercise to occupy you. You can start by counting backward from 100 to 1, try reciting timetables, pick a large number and try dividing it into two small numbers in different ways.

Some other soothing techniques

There are some other soothing techniques that help calm your mind and keep it healthy. However, we also have the option of opting for neuro-linguistic programming for a healthy mind and distressed body.

Imagine being with someone you love

If you have a loved one in your life that lightens up your mood with their positive vibes, think of being with them at that very moment. Imagine them telling you that you are strong enough to get through the tough time and you will come out even stronger. It will help you a lot in distressing.

Be self-compassionate

The world is cruel enough to hold you responsible for various things. The best you can do for yourself in such time is to be kind to yourself. Motivate yourself to go through this and be courageous enough to handle tough situations. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and everything going wrong is not your fault.

Spend time with a furry buddy

This is the best soothing technique to cheer up and distract your mind. Sit with your pet and focus on how their fur feels. Think of their qualities and how you love them so much. If you are away from them at the moment, then you can imagine being with them.

Think of your favorite place

Think of any place that you like and soothe you. Imagine being there and feeling the surroundings. Imagine the sounds near that place and the things that you see there. It will put you in a better mood and divert your mind from all the stress and worries.

Write down the positive things

Thinking of the positive things is something that we all need to do. There are times when we are full of negative energy and need something to remind us that things are going to be fine. So, invest your time in writing down or imagining the positive things of your life in your mind. But remember not to chase the happiness for your better self and peace of mind. It is a motivating and inspiring task that helps you keep going no matter how tough the situation is.


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