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Grounding Exercises for Mental Health

By: Chloe Lisowski

When it comes to anxiety and mental health, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of your bad thoughts. The practice of grounding exercises can help with pulling away from your thoughts of negative emotions or bad memories. Grounding exercises are a way to help refocus on the present moment and help distract your mind from any anxious emotions (Raypole, 2022). Grounding exercises can essentially be used whenever, but is especially helpful for anxiety, wellbeing, stress, depression, mood, PTSD, and dissociation (Raypole, 2022). There are many different grounding exercises and strategies, and all these different ones can work for different people (Living Well, n.d). The overall goal with grounding exercises is to help keep the mind and body connected, so there is no wrong way to ground yourself as long as the mind and body are working together (Living Well, n.d).

Some helpful grounding exercises are:

  1. Taking deep breaths. This is a very common and easy one, but a slow inhale and exhale can be a helpful grounding technique. When it comes to breathing, you want to focus on your breath as it is entering your body and leaving your body. Being mindful of your breathing.

  2. Using your 5 senses. A popular grounding exercise is the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise”, which involves identifying 5 objects, 4 sounds, 3 textures, 2 smells, and 1 taste. The exercise is all about using your 5 senses to help ground you back into the here and now. Another exercise that helps use your senses is holding an ice cube. When holding the ice cube, you’re supposed to notice and recognize how it feels and maybe if it has a smell.

  3. Exercising and stretching. This third technique is about moving your body to help ground it back into the present moment. This technique is doing an exercise, could be simple like jumping jacks or jump rope, or going for a long run or long walk. On the other end, this can look like you doing some small body stretches while focusing on breathing. All of these actions help bring your thoughts back to a peaceful present moment, rather than focusing on anxious thoughts.

These are just a few of the very many grounding exercises out there! There are others that are practicing positive self-talk, listing your favorite things, or playing a memory game. Do you think you’ll consider trying a grounding exercise? If so, or if you would like to look further into more exercises out there, there are many exercises listed in the references below.


Deering, S. (2021). 8 Grounding Techniques for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed. Talk Space.

Living Well. (n.d). Grounding Exercises.

Raypole, C. (2022). 30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts. Healthline.

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