These grounding techniques reduce anxiety and increase connection with yourself and your surroundings.
What Does it Mean to Ground Yourself?
Grounding yourself is when you stay connected to the present. Instead of getting lost in anxiety and reviewing a made-up version of reality in your head, grounding allows you to experience the moment you are in. It requires being connected to yourself and provides stability and calm even in challenging situations.
While grounding is a mindfulness technique to become more spiritually connected with yourself, it can also be an excellent way to self-regulate when facing stressful situations.
When you ground yourself, your focus might be on:
- Slowing down
- Being aware of sensory stimulation (what do I see, hear, taste, smell?)
- Asking yourself grounding questions (who am I, where am I, what day is it?)
- Connecting to your body, the earth, and the moment
- Finding calm, self-acceptance, and inner peace
- Regulating your breathing
- Practicing gratitude and self-awareness
Medical Disclaimer: We are honored to help you learn how to ground yourself! If you are struggling to find the help you need, please note that all content found on this website is not to be considered professional medical advice. It is always best to consult a doctor or licensed therapist with questions or concerns about your physical or mental health. Check out Mental Health America’s helpful list of therapists.
Our Top Tips to Stay Grounded in the Present
The mind-body connection is a powerful way to be present at the moment and to become more self-aware. Reconnect with your body, the earth, and others using these tips.
When You Need a Quick Reset
#1 Place your feet flat on the floor.
Focus on the pressure of your feet on the floor. Notice the points where your socks or shoes press on the curves of your feet. Wiggle your toes and bounce your feet forward and then back onto your heels. Pay attention to how your feet and your body feels. Breathe out slowly.
#2 Gently alternate tapping your left and then right forearms.
You can also do this on your thighs. Make sure to alternate the tapping. Take a slow deep breath while tapping, and then release your breath gently. Stop tapping, but leave your hands on your arms (in a gentle self-hug) and close your eyes as you take another slow deep breath in and out. Let the stress or fear go as you exhale.
#3 Ice away feelings of distress.
You can do this in several ways: chew on ice, hold a piece of ice in your hand for a few seconds, rub an ice cube on your forehead between your eyes, or place an ice pack at the back of your neck or on your face. The temperature immediately reconnects you to the moment and the sensation of the ice on your body.
#4 Use heat to calm yourself.
While ice often works to upregulate (reconnect to emotions if you become disconnected), heat works to downregulate (reduce the intensity of emotions). If you need to calm yourself instantly, use heat to feel more grounded. Hot water bottles, hot packs, a warm bath, or a hot drink are all soothing options when you need a quick reset. If you use a hot water bottle or hot pack, hold it to your core.
#5 Use texture to ground yourself.
If you find your mind wandering and can’t focus on the moment, use texture to bring your body back to the center. Keep something at your work desk, in your purse, or in the car, so you always have something on hand. This could include a velvety pillow, fidget toys, squishy toys, textured paper, etc. If you’re at your desk and can’t find anything to use, gently run your fingers back and forth across the keyboard (don’t push down on the keys!). If you find yourself frenetically playing with an object, consciously slow down. Whatever texture you touch, think about it and describe it to yourself.
Important Note: Be aware of what your body needs, as everyone’s body responds differently. For example, being too hot can increase anxiety for some people, and cold sensations make some people angry. Also, remember there’s a difference between a soothing hot bowl of soup and sweating it out during a heat wave. Adding heat or ice as a grounding technique should be done safely. Pay attention to what calms or agitates your body, and choose grounding techniques that fit your personal needs.
On the Weekend and Days Off
#6 Connect to your plants.
As you water your plants, talk to them, keeping a running dialogue of what you are doing and what you notice about them. Yes, it sounds strange, but a survey by Trees.com found that 48% of over 1,200 respondents talk to their plants. Not only that, those people report feeling happier because of it. There may not be any hard and fast science to it, but we know personally that this activity is grounding and calming.
It might feel uncomfortable initially, but use the same voice you would use with a small child or an animal. Speak gently and quietly. Notice the color, shape, and texture of the plants. Pay close attention to the plant’s appearance, so you notice new leaves and growth over time. Look at the shape of the leaves or flowers, and observe how the light interacts with the plants. Does the sun shine through the leaves? Are veins or colors more visible as the sun makes them transparent? Are the leaves opaque and sturdy?
#7 Get dirty.
This is another grounding technique connected to plants, but the focus here is on getting dirty. Skip the garden gloves and use your bare hands to pull weeds or add new plants. As you dig around in the dirt, not only are you connecting directly to the earth, you’re activating a microbe that studies show makes you happier. As you dig around, notice the color and feel of the dirt, inhale deeply to smell the earth, and watch how the light and wind change the look and feel of the things around you. Focus on the feel of your hands in the dirt and the pressure of the ground against your knees. Make sure to breathe deeply and slowly.
#8 Connect to your pets (or other people’s pets!)
You know your cat has soft paws, and his tongue feels like sandpaper. But when was the last time you consciously focused on the scraping feel of his tongue on your hand, the color of his paws, or how he tilts his head and intently looks at you? Express gratitude for what you love about your animal, and spend some time where you are focused on just your pet—no TV or phone to distract you. And if you have a friend with a pet, ask to petsit for an afternoon!
Get Grounded With Your Partner or Family
#9 Verbalize gratitude for your loved one.
This can be done as a family activity or with just your partner. The goal is to ground yourselves in the moment and experience connection through the power of gratitude. If possible, maintain physical contact (holding hands, resting your hand on a shoulder, etc.) and look at each other. Silence devices, so you aren’t interrupted. Start by looking at each other, and think about what you are grateful for. If you have a spiritual practice, say a quick prayer of thanks for your loved one.
After you’ve had a moment to quiet your thoughts in silent contemplation, take turns expressing what you are grateful for. Be specific, and remember you are only sharing positives! Once a person has described what they are thankful for in the other person, that person can receive the words by saying, “Thank you, I receive that as truth.” or, “I accept those words as a blessing in my life.”
Pro Tip: If you have little ones, make this an impromptu grounding activity. Look your child in the eyes and express your gratitude for them as a person.
#10 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique.
Most people do this as a personal grounding technique, but we recommend trying this with your partner or teen. To start, close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly. Then, ask each other these questions in order:
- What do you see?
- What do you feel?
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- What do you taste?
Answering the questions grounds you at the moment and reconnects you to the other person. It helps you experience the moment together.
If you aren’t already eating or drinking something, finish this activity by making a drink like hot chocolate or iced matcha.
Some people replace “What do you taste?” with “What is one emotion I feel?” Do whichever feels right for you at the moment.
#11 End of Day Debrief.
At the end of the day, you’re probably exhausted. Instead of immediately sitting down to your favorite show, take 5-15 minutes to ground yourself and reconnect with your loved ones. Sit facing each other, and connect by holding hands or touching an arm and talking about your day. After a busy day, often spent apart, it can be challenging to reconnect with each other. This technique will help ground you in the moment and transition from being focused on work to focus on each other.
Pro Tip: Give each other space when you first get home instead of immediately doing a big conversation dump.
Nourish Your Body to Ground Yourself
#12 Eat seasonally.
When you eat food available with the seasons, your body adjusts to the earth’s rhythms. As the seasons change, look forward to the new food options available locally, and take time to express gratitude for the different foods that come with each season. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat potatoes in the summer or tomatoes in the winter! Think about small changes you can make, and talk to farmers at your local market for help on what foods are in season.
#13 Eat root vegetables.
Not only are they hearty and comforting, but food grown deep in the earth has a grounding effect on your body and mind. This is partly because root vegetables are a high protein source packed with phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemicals in plants that provide nutrition). Eat slowly, taking time to smell the food, notice the texture, and enjoy the earthy flavors.
#14 Drink green tea.
One of its many benefits comes from epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which reduces inflammation and even causes the regeneration of neural cells in the brain. When you drink green tea, the natural benefits have a grounding impact on your body. Plus, it’s a quieting and soothing ritual that can ground you any time during the day.
Develop a Habit of Grounding Yourself
#15 Ground yourself before you get out of bed.
When you wake up, think of 3 people. Express gratitude for them, and then wish them well. If you think of someone you’re upset with, consider expressing forgiveness. It’s such a small thing, but we’ve found this technique shifts the mood of our whole day! If you forget to do it while you’re still in bed, it’s also easy to do later.
#16 Ground yourself like Better Call Saul.
Why does Chuck ask people that enter his house if they have grounded themselves? He asks this because he is referring to something called earthing. Earthing is the practice of reconnecting to the earth by walking barefoot outside or connecting to the earth indoors with conductive systems. Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, this grounding technique has incredible potential.
If all of that sounds a bit woo-woo, don’t dismiss it yet! Research has found that connecting to the earth’s electrons helps reset or recalibrate the human body. Your nervous system runs on electrical power, and it’s believed that environmental factors such as polluted air and toxic chemicals impact your nervous system. Also, factors like stress cause dysregulation in your body. Earthing has been found to “shift the autonomic nervous system” into proper functioning.
Each morning, take a cup of coffee or tea outside and stand barefoot in the grass. As you stand, think about the feel of the earth under your feet. Is the grass soft or scratchy? Is the ground hot or cold? Focus on slowing your breathing to breathe in deeply and out slowly. Look around you, focusing on things close to you and far away.
Look at the colors, shapes, and movements of your environment. If you only have a couple of minutes to do this, great! Make it a morning ritual, and work up to spending 30 minutes outside. You can walk around but avoid the temptation to check emails or social media on your phone. A hot drink can help you have something in your hand other than your phone. Over time, you’ll become more connected to the subtle changes of time and seasons.
#17 Find your rhythm.
You’ve heard of the 24-hour circadian rhythm, but did you know there is also an infradian rhythm? This commonly impacts people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the female menstrual cycle. For SAD, the infradian rhythm follows the seasons, and the female menstrual cycle follows a (typically) 28-day cycle. Understanding your body will help you to become even more grounded.
In any cycle, there are peaks and troughs. When you connect to the rhythm of your body, you will know when it’s time to push yourself and when you need a little extra care.
If you experience SAD, ground yourself by preparing for the winter months. This could include reducing your activities, increasing sun exposure during daylight, and even getting a light therapy lamp. Light therapy is now considered the first choice in treating SAD.
For a 24-hour circadian rhythm, pay attention to the time of day you usually hit a slump. If you’re dragging every day at 2 PM, set the alarm on your phone for 1:55 PM and spend 5-10 minutes grounding yourself. That could look like making a hot drink, standing and stretching, or even going outside to breathe fresh air.
If you have a menstrual cycle, begin tracking the stages of your 28-day process and note when you feel the most tired, irritable, or hungry. Adjusting your schedule, eating habits, and exercise will ground you to what your body needs.
#18 Deal with underlying issues.
Grounding yourself can help with managing anxiety and other mental health concerns. But some of these grounding techniques are challenging if you have unresolved pain and trauma. As you integrate grounding into your life, you may become more self-aware and feel emotions you haven’t in the past. This is good, but sometimes it can feel uncomfortable! As you reconnect to yourself, take time to also deal with any underlying issues that surface. The more you’ve healed from the past, the easier it will be to live in the moment with joy and contentment.
Stay Grounded by Preparing for Triggers
An excellent way to stay grounded is to look for potential triggers. What are the things that unsettle you or leave you anxious?
Some potential triggers:
- Before the anniversary of a loss or trauma
- At the end of a relationship
- Before seeing family
- Extra time alone
- Being yelled at
- Facing life stressors
Have a plan for personal triggers so that you can immediately ground yourself. Here are some examples:
- Ask your friends or family to spend time with you on the anniversary of a loss or trauma.
- Take time to check in with your body. Do you need more food, rest, or nurture? Do you need fewer commitments, noise, or time alone?
- Mentally prepare for stressful interactions by visualizing yourself remaining calm. Plan what you’ll say to difficult questions, and choose your favorite grounding technique to calm yourself if you get upset.
- Mentally and spiritually prepare for a challenging experience by spending extra time earthing and being quiet in the morning.
- Recenter from triggers by placing your hand on your heart, slowly breathing in and out, and then say to yourself, “I reject those hateful words; they are not true. I am valuable and don’t have to prove my worth.”
Grounding Tips for Anxiety
Simple daily activities can become overwhelming and even terrifying if you suffer from anxiety. Use these grounding tips to help center and calm yourself.
On a First Date
#19 Focus on self-talk.
If you have anxiety, the hardest part is the time leading up to the date. You feel panicked, you’re ready to cancel, and you can’t focus on anything. As you’re getting ready, use positive affirmations to ground yourself in the moment and reign in your out-of-control thoughts. Here are a few to get you started:
- This is a learning experience, and there is no pressure.
- I’m going to be ok. I don’t have to be afraid; if I’m uncomfortable, I can leave.
- I am confident and beautiful; this date is an opportunity to grow.
- I feel anxious and panicked, but those feelings will pass. This moment will not last forever.
- If this doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean I’ll die alone.
Going to the Grocery Store
#20 Mental map grounding.
Before you go to the grocery store, make a list of the items you want to buy. Then, close your eyes, and imagine walking through the grocery store to get each item. You can continue to walk through this mental map on the drive over to the store.
Making a Phone Call
#21 Check your thoughts.
What is it that you’re afraid of? Are you worried about sounding incompetent or stupid? Do you rely on nonverbals, so phone calls make you feel out of control? Did you receive bad news via a phone call and now dread all phone calls?
Explore what is behind the anxiety.
When you find what it is, close your eyes and exhale that anxiety. Slowly breathe for a few seconds. Then replace the fear with a new truth. When you find the truth you need, deeply inhale while thinking about that truth, “I’m not incompetent. I am capable,” “I don’t need to be in control,” “I don’t have to be afraid.”
Going to Bed
#22 The diffuser routine.
If going to bed makes you anxious, use a diffuser to ground you in the rhythm of routine, sight, and smell.
Keep a bottle of water near your diffuser, and when you’re ready for bed, refill the diffuser with water. Open one bottle of essential oil and hold it at chest level, then profoundly inhale the oil’s aroma. Add a few drops to your diffuser.
Repeat this with each of the oils you plan to use. Put on the diffuser, and sit or lay in bed watching the steam rise from the diffuser. Breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling the aroma of the oils.
Our favorite blends:
- Rosemary, peppermint, lavender, geranium
- Bergamot, orange
- Lavender, clove
- Orange, tea tree
- Cinnamon, orange
- Cinnamon, cedarwood, orange, clove
Avoid These Things to Stay Grounded at Work
Some high-stress situations at work can include:
- Video or voice calls
- Starting a new work project
- Talking to a toxic coworker or boss
Identify what situations stress you out to prepare to face them with strength. You can also avoid doing things that make you feel insecure and unbalanced.
4 Things to Avoid So You Can Stay Grounded and Confident
- Avoid hunching over. This includes sitting with your head down, your shoulders curved inward, and your core slouched. Instead, ground yourself with confident body language. Sit up straight so you can breathe deeply and slowly. Hold your head up, and look around you at your environment.
- Don’t meditate on past failures or mistakes. If you are rehearsing the time you blanked on a big presentation, or your partner walked in wearing tighty whities when you were on a video call working from home, don’t. This primes you for stress and even failure. Instead, clear your mind of all the things that have happened in the past, and focus on the present. Rehearse what you plan to say, assure yourself that you are prepared and successful.
- Don’t invest time in toxic people. Toxic people consume time and energy, whether they are tearing you down or attacking someone else. If a poisonous coworker starts in, set a boundary and end the conversation so that you don’t end up synchronizing with their toxic energy.
- Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. When you start a new project, instead of expecting either failure or success, set a spectrum of goals and benchmarks for success. This will make new projects feel less overwhelming and help you reframe your thoughts to be balanced and hopeful.
Grounding techniques can help you in every area of your life, helping to manage stress, face work situations, and connect you to the moment.
You can also increase self-awareness by connecting to your emotions. Check out our guide on The Emotion Wheel: How to Use it And Master Your Emotions.