Grounding is a practice that can help you get rid of unpleasant memories.

Woman sitting with pet cat as a soothing grounding technique
Chalit Saphaphak/Stocksy United

Grounding techniques can help distract you from your feelings.

You can use grounding techniques to help create space from feelings, but they are especially helpful for improving.

These techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through diStress..

1. Put your hands in water

The temperature of the water and how it feels on your hands are important. Does it feel the same in your hand?

Warm water is best first. Next, try warm water. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water?

2. Pick up or touch items near you

Do the things you touch feel soft or hard? Heavy or light? Is it warm or cool? The texture and color of each item should be the focus. Think of colors such as burgundy, indigo, or turquoise instead of simply red or blue.

3. Breathe deeply

Slowly exhale. You can say or think with each breath if it helps. Take a few moments to feel the air filling your lungs and how it feels to push it out.

4. Savor a food or drink

Take small bites or sips of food or beverage and let yourself fully enjoy it. Think about how it tastes and smells and how it has flavors on your tongue.

5. Take a short walk

You can count your steps. Take notice of the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.

6. Hold a piece of ice

What does it feel like to start? How long does it take to melt? When the ice begins to melt, how does the sensation change?

7. Savor a scent

Is there a scent that you like? A cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle is what this might be. Try to note the qualities of the fragrance by inhaling slowly and deeply.

8. Move your body

Do a few exercises or stretches. You could try:

  • jacks are jumping
  • jumping up and down.
  • The rope is being jumped on.
  • jogging in place
  • stretching different muscle groups

Pay attention to how your body feels when you touch the floor or move through the air, and how it feels when you touch the floor.

How does the floor feel to you? When you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope hitting the ground.

9. Listen to your surroundings

Take a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs are barking? Is it machinery or traffic? What are people saying? Do you know the language?

Let the sounds remind you where you are.

10. Feel your body

You can do this either sitting or standing. Take a moment to notice how your body feels. Consider:

  • Your hair is on your head.
  • The weight of your shirt on your shoulders.
  • Whether your arms are stiff at your sides.
  • Your heartbeat is rapid or steady.
  • Whether you feel hungry or full.
  • Whether your legs are crossed or not.

Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you wearing shoes or barefoot? How does the floor feel to you?

11. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method

You can use your senses to list things you notice. You could start by listing.

  • Five things you hear.
  • You can see four things.
  • You can touch three things from where you are sitting.
  • You can smell two things.
  • You can taste it.

The hum of your computer or the color of the carpet are things you might not pay attention to.

These grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from feelings and back to the present.

12. Play a memory game

Look at a picture for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, take the photograph and make a mental picture of it, in as much detail as possible. You can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.

13. Think in categories

Choose from one or two broad categories, such as musical instruments, ice cream flavors, or baseball teams. Take a moment to mentally list all the things from each category.

14. Use math and numbers

“Even if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help center you.”


  • You are running through a times table.
  • Counting backwards from 100.
  • You could make the number by choosing a number and thinking of five ways to make it.

15. Recite something

Think of a poem, song, or book passage that you know. It can be quietly brought to yourself or in your head.

If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of the words on your lips and mouth. If you say the words in your head, look at them on a page.

16. Make yourself laugh

A silly joke is the kind of joke you would find on a candy wrapper.

You can watch funny animal videos, clips from comedians, or anything else you like to laugh at.

17. Use an anchoring phrase

This could be something like, “I\’m Full Name.” I am X years old. I live in the state. Friday, June 3 is Friday, June 3. It is 10:00 in the morning. I am sitting at my desk. There is no one else in the room.

You can add more details until you feel calm, such as, “It\’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun.” It is my break time. I am going to make a cup of tea.

18. Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doing

Think about how you would put away a finished load if you were doing laundry.

The clothes are warm when they are out of the dryer. They are soft and stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket. I spread them out over the bed to prevent them from wrinkling. I shake the towels out first, then folding them into smaller pieces.

19. Describe a common task

Think of an activity you can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar, and then think of it. If you are giving someone else instructions on how to do it, go through the process step-by-step.

20. Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behind

Take a picture:

  • The emotions are put into a box.
  • Walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from pain.
  • “You don’t have to listen to the thoughts you have about a song or TV show.”

21. Describe what’s around you

Take a few minutes to notice what you see. Use all five senses to give the fullest possible picture.

The bench over there is green. I am in the sun and it is warm under my jeans. It feels rough, but there are no splinters. The air is very strong. I hear kids laughing.

You can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional diStress.. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.

22. Picture the voice or face of someone you love

If you feel upset or diStress.ed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.

23. Practice self-kindness

You can repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself.

  • You will make it through, you are having a rough time.
  • You can move through this pain, and you are strong.
  • You are doing your best, and you are trying hard.

Say it in your head or aloud.

24. Sit with your pet

If you have a pet, spend a few moments with them. If they are of the variety furry, pet them. Consider their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a small pet, make sure you feel their feelings in your hand.

Not at home? Think about how your pet would comfort you if they were there.

25. List favorites

List three favorite things in different categories.

  • There are foods.
  • There are trees.
  • There are songs.
  • There are movies.
  • There are books.
  • There are places.

26. Visualize your favorite place

Think of your favorite place, whether it is the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Imagine the noises, objects, and smells you can hear, smell, and see.

Try to remember the last time you were there. Think about what you did there and how it felt.

27. Plan an activity

This could be something you do alone or with a friend. Think about what you will do. You can go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie, or visit a museum.

Focus on the details, such as what you wear when you go and how you get there.

28. Touch something comforting

This could be your favorite blanket, a beloved T-shirt, or a smooth stone, and it could be the perfect gift. Think about how it feels in your hand or under your fingers.

If you have a favorite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and think about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.

29. List positive things

Write or mentally list four or five things that bring you joy in your life.

30. Listen to music

Pretend you are listening to a song for the first time. If there are any, focus on the melody and lyrics.

Does the song make you feel scared or happy? Pay attention to the parts that are the most important to you.

While there’s little research explaining how grounding techniques work, the techniques represent a common strategy for managing PTSD and anxiety.

Grounding techniques use visualization and senses to distract you from feelings and thoughts.

“Emotions can take over your thoughts and physical responses during a panic attack. Using grounding techniques can help interrupt your body’s response and return your brain and feelings to a place of safety.”

Use techniques to manage your feelings.

  • diStress.
  • traumatic events
  • nightmares
  • Like anger.
  • anxiety

It’s best to try doing a grounding exercise when you first start to feel bad. Don’t wait for diStress. to reach a level that’s harder to handle. If the technique doesn’t work at first, try to stick with it for a bit before moving on to another.

Grounding yourself can be difficult. It may take some time to find the best techniques for you.

There are more tips that you can use to get the most out of these techniques.

  • Practice. It can help to practice grounding even when you aren’t dissociating or experiencing diStress.. If you get used to an exercise before you need to use it, it may take less effort when you want to use it to cope in the moment.
  • Avoid assigning values. For example, if you’re grounding yourself by describing your environment, concentrate on the basics of your surroundings, rather than how you feel about them.
  • Check in with yourself. Before and after a grounding exercise, rate your diStress. as a number between 1 and 10. What level is your diStress. when you begin? How much did it decrease after the exercise? This can help you get a better idea of whether a particular technique is working for you.

Grounding techniques can be powerful tools to help you cope with thoughts in the moment. If you’re having trouble using grounding techniques, a therapist may be able to assist.

It’s also important to get help from a therapist so you can address the root cause of your diStress..