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Mental grounding techniques for anxiety

Grounding techniques aim to bring you back to the present. It distracts your mind from negative and challenging emotions and unwanted experiences to refocus on what is happening here and now.

They can help control your anxiety by turning your attention away from thoughts, worries, memories and refocusing on the present moment.

Grounding techniques usually can be physical, where you use your five senses or tangible objects to help you reconnect with your body or environment, or mental, where you use mental distractions to redirect your thoughts away from distress and reconnects you with the present. Some grounding techniques are a mix of both.

Here we’ll teach you a few mental grounding techniques to help you reconnect with the present.

Mental Grounding Techniques

The Colour Game

This game helps you connect to your environment and disconnect from your troubling thoughts. You have to focus and notice your surroundings.

Choose any colour (red, green, yellow, blue, orange, black, white, etc.).

Then look around and find that colour.

Notice and name, if you can, the objects with that colour.

Repeat the process by picking a different colour.


The Alphabet Game

During this technique, you must name something for every alphabet letter within any category. This could be animals, foods, countries, or people’s names.

For example,





To make it more challenging, choose only one category, and name one item for every alphabet letter.

The Categories Game

Choose one of the categories below, and name as many items as you can in each one. Spend a couple of minutes on each category to come up with as many items as possible.

  • Movies
  • Countries
  • Ice cream flavours
  • Cities
  • Books
  • Colours
  • Animals
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Cars
  • Sports games and teams
  • TV Shows
  • Famous People
  • Musical instruments

You can make up your own categories if you need to.


Use Maths and Numbers

 Numbers help you focus on something besides your thoughts or uncomfortable physical symptoms. Here are a few examples:

  • Count backwards from 100.
  • Count backwards from 100 by subtracting each time by 7. Example: 100, 93, 86, 79, etc.
  • Run through a timetable in your head.
Hugging to reduce stress

Objects and names

Name all the objects you see, and describe what’s around you. You can pick one and describe it in detail: colour, size, texture, scent, weight, etc.

You can use your five senses to provide as much detail as possible.


List your favourites

List three or five of your favourite things in different categories: food, movies, songs, books, places, etc.


Other mental grounding techniques:

  • Spell your full name, and then do it backwards. Then, choose the names of four other people and do the same.
  • Think of an object or an animal and “draw” it in your mind.
  • Recite a poem, song or quote you know by heart.
  • Visualise someone positive in your life, someone you love, and imagine their face and voice.
  • Listen to music. Put on your favourite song and focus on the lyrics and the melody.

Author: Magdalena Garcia

Integrative Psychotherapist BSc, PGDip, MSc (Dist), (Reg MBACP)

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