8 Grounding Techniques to Manage Stress

Part of the human experience involves facing times of panic and worry. In fact, we know that some forms of stress and anxiety - often called eustress - are beneficial to us by keeping us safe (think of times you’ve left dangerous situations) and motivated (before a test or speech).

However, anxiety becomes unhealthy for us when it begins to consume our thoughts, our plans, and our life.  During these times, it's so important to have strategic tools in place to actively stop the downward spiral. This is where grounding practices come into play!  

What is Grounding?



 Grounding is a practice or exercise that simply distracts us from our current emotions,  flashbacks, or spiraling thoughts. The goal of grounding is to guide you away from what’s going on in your mind, bringing you back to the present and to what is tangible in real-time. Grounding is also a term that is synonymous with earthing; a practice of centering oneself and connecting with the earth. Both grounding definitions involve being fully present in the here and now.

Who Can Benefit from Grounding

 Those suffering from chronic conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety disorder, trauma, and depression may benefit from this practice. Outside of chronic conditions, any of us who experience anxiety in our day-to-day life can benefit from grounding;  In fact, this double-blind study here revealed that grounding improved positivity and mood better than those who were simply relaxing. It's a tool that we all can all benefit from! 

8 Grounding Techniques to Adopt

  1. Place both hands over your heart and breathe. This technique is a form of self-soothing through physical touch. Deep breathing has historically been used as a form of centering in meditation and can help you begin to calm down. This practice is a reminder that you are here, in this moment, and fully alive.
  2. Journey through the 5 senses. For those who need a longer distraction, journeying through the five senses by identifying what you can see, hear, feel, taste and smell can really keep you focused on the present. What can you see right now? Identify any sounds you may hear. Reach for an item close by, feel its texture and describe it to yourself. Is there something you can taste right now? Is there something you can smell? This practice pulls you away from spiraling thoughts and focuses on what’s in front of you.
  3. Recite a phrase, song or poem. For some people, memorization of words can be a useful grounding technique during anxious moments. Some will quote a book or poem, recite a song, or create a fact-based phrase (My name is John Smith, I am forty years old. I was born in Nova Scotia…etc.) This form of grounding through memorization is a great way to break up an anxious thought pattern.
  4. Move your body. Exercise has been known to be a stress reliever. Refocusing some negative energy into movement may divert your attention, and the “happy hormone” endorphins are released when we workout. If picking up a set of weights sounds tough right now, other forms of distracting movements include cleaning a room, playing with your kid or a pet, or re-organizing a messy cabinet. This grounding technique keeps you focused on a task, bringing you out of your head and into the present.
  5. Nostril-breathing. This deep breathing technique is a great one to reach for when feeling panicked. Cover up one of your nostrils and breathe in slowly, deeply, for the count of 5 seconds. Release both nostrils as you hold your breath for the count of 3 seconds. Cover up the opposite nostril, breathing out slowly for the count of 5 seconds. Repeat, starting with the nostril you have just exhaled from. This form of deep breathing has been known to lower the heart rate and keep you focused while counting and covering your nostrils.
  6. Review life-giving affirmations. This technique involves some prep work! Write down some positive affirmations and keep them somewhere safe and accessible. This is a great opportunity to be creative! When anxious thoughts surface, pull out these affirmations and read them aloud to yourself. Repeat the ones that speak to you in your current circumstance. Reminding yourself that you are brave, strong, and powerful may encourage you during a hard time, and reading something out loud is a solid distraction.
  7. Connect with nature. Pairing with the “move your body” grounding technique, getting outdoors can help clear the mind. Whether it’s going on a hiking adventure or sitting by a river, take in your surroundings and seek out something peaceful. Notice how your breathing is a bit steadier, and how the fresh air feels good in the lungs. Nature-based grounding can also provide a different place to journey through the 5 senses, with much more beauty at hand to explore.
  8. Dive into distracting conversation. Flashbacks and worrisome thoughts can happen at any given moment, even when we are in the company of friends, coworkers or family. This can be used to your advantage by asking someone an open-ended question and focusing on what they are saying. Pull yourself into some workplace gossip and really try to engage; listen to their words, notice their facial reactions, and slowly peel your mind away from its current state. Conversation may be fleeting but engaging in something tangible can stop a worrying thought process in its tracks.

Helpful Tips and Additional Notes on Grounding

Find what works for you – We are all so unique, so a “one size fits all” approach to grounding is definitely ineffective!

Bring in a trusted person to help – If there is someone in your life that is safe, bring them in on your struggle with anxious thought patterns and teach them on what to say or do. 

Don’t be afraid to get professional help – If having a safe person to trust in is not in the cards right now, seeking a professional is absolutely ok! A mental health professional can assist you in finding the perfect grounding technique, and with the rise of technology, many professionals are often available via text or video chat. 

Are you in need of a mental health reset? We offer a 22-day De-Stress Program that encompasses nutrition, sleep, and grounding techniques! Click here to learn more about the program and to book a free consultation. 

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