8 Grounding Techniques You Can Do Right Now


You have a job to do, at the station or at home, and you can’t let stress or anything else get in the way. That’s why it’s important to know a few grounding techniques to keep you focused on the here and now.

What are grounding techniques, why do you need them, and how can they help?

Let’s talk about that and give you a few tools to keep you at your best, despite stress and other triggers.

Caught Off Guard

You’re going about your day when something throws you off. It could be someone getting under your skin, a shift assignment, or a topic you don’t want to talk about. Maybe it’s a call that brings up ugly memories. Maybe it’s a domestic issue.

No matter the cause, you feel yourself struggling to keep calm. You feel unsteady, irritated, or distracted. You brush it off, pretending you’re fine, but you’re not. It’s really bothering you and the fact that it’s affecting you bothers you more.

You need to gain control, but how?

What Are Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are a way to pull yourself into the here and now, resetting your nervous system to withstand the emotion and mental pull of outside influences or past events. They work like a ship’s anchor, holding you to your time and place so you can be present in the moment and do what needs to be done. Focusing on where you are now, what’s happening around you physically, and what task you’re working on can draw you away from unwanted memories or emotions and keep you calm.

Since not all grounding techniques work for everyone, and not every technique works in every situation, it’s good to have a few you can call upon. We hope to build your bag of tools with this list, so you have an arsenault at your side should you need it.

8 Grounding Techniques You Can Do Right Now

Most of these you can do or modify to do right where you are and possibly as discreetly as possible.

Breathe Deeply

Don’t underestimate a deep breath. Sometimes all you need is a little oxygen. Pause if you’re able, or do this as you continue working, but try this to pull yourself back.

Take in a deep breath through your nose for a count of about four. Hold it for another four count. Then slowly push it out your lips for a third four count. Pause, then do it again if needed. This is sometimes called square breathing and is a quick in-the-moment remedy for rising stress levels.

Feel Your Surroundings

Notice the feel of things around you. The hose texture, the coldness of water, the hem of cloth whether it’s your own sleeve or a blanket. Whatever is in your hands, feel it. Be physically present and in the moment so you can focus on the task in front of you.

You can even listen to sounds, smell the air, or notice colors and shapes to remain physically present. All these tactics draw you back to the moment so you can ward off thoughts of worry or past anxieties.

Get Physical

If you’re able to in the moment, do something physical like going for a walk or jog. You can even do a few jumping jacks or pushups. If you’re already doing something physical at the moment, focus on that. Lift with a little more oomph or run with a little more power. No matter the task, make it a workout and get that job done as efficiently and effectively as possible. That’s what you’re here to do.

Body Scan

A body scan is a way of self checking physically and focusing on your physical being. It’s more tricky to do in action, but if you’re riding or sitting somewhere—or better yet, able to lay down—it works great.

Focus on your feet first. Feel them. Are they hot, cold, sweaty, comfortable?Are your shoes too tight or too loose? Work your way up to ankles, legs, knees, and so on. Feel what you feel and move on. When you’re done, you’ve checked your whole self over and should feel more in control.


This one depends on your exact moment, but if you’re able to pause and try it, it does help.

For most, closing your eyes helps. If closing your eyes is more distracting (and you see other things), focusing on a single, boring point, like a mark in the wall or the corner of a desk is better.

Next, picture a calming moment where you’re relaxed and at peace. It might be a seashore or a mountain top. Maybe it’s your kids playing in the backyard or a campfire. Wherever you feel most comfortable, put yourself there and stay there for a few minutes or until you feel calm.

Get Extreme

That doesn’t sound like a grounding technique but let’s explain. Extreme feelings might need extreme distractions. So here are a few things to draw your attention away from what’s bothering you.

Grab an ice cube and hold it in your hand. Feel its cold, wet surface as it melts. Put it against your face or wrist to feel the coldness. Stay there for a moment and breathe.

Eat something really spicy, bitter, or sour to jerk your attention away from unpleasant thoughts. Hold onto that taste as long as you need to.

Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it. Let’s be clear—this is NOT a method for self harm but meant as a quick, physical draw back into the present moment. If you use this technique and find your wrist getting red or sore, it’s time to switch to something else. Typically, this is found as helpful and only takes a few snaps.

Lastly, try squeezing your fists tight for a few seconds, then release them. Go back and forth on this until you feel better. If you have grips, use those as well.

List Things

Play a memory game with yourself like listing as many US states as you can, maybe even in alphabetical order. Try listing your times tables or naming all the people in your department. You can even try working out a math problem. Pick a category and make your brain work on something other than your stressful thoughts.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Another method used by many therapists is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It works with your five senses.

You list 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. If you need to visualize things because there, for example, are not two things to smell, you can. You can also skip a step, but the point is being aware of your physical surroundings by using your senses.

Staying Steady Through the Storm

These grounding techniques should keep you steady through life’s—or work’s—storms. Having a bag of tools available to you like this should train you to practice skills like self awareness, self reliance, and self control. Most of all, this should help you to realize that no one is immune to stress and its effects. Be sure to continue taking care of yourself physically and mentally. With these tools, you’re one more step to a healthier you.

As always, if you ever need more assistance navigating your way through life, reach out.