March 8, 2021
Pratima holding the directions for the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique

Do you ever have a day where you feel like your mind is trying to focus on a thousand things all at once? Each time you try to sit down and focus on one of those things, you can’t. You’re left feeling scattered and unproductive?

This month’s Mindful Monday article focuses on “grounding” or being in a state of mind where you are focused and aware of what’s happening in the present moment. Practicing grounding techniques can reduce stress and anxiety, and help increase focus and a sense of calm.

Feeling Ungrounded

When I feel ungrounded, my mind is unfocused, spinning and unable to settle on thinking about one thing at a time. Being ungrounded can cause you to feel tired or fatigued. You may have a hard time sleeping, or have difficulty concentrating.


Physical symptoms of feeling ungrounded can include your heart beating quickly, shaky hands, and sweating. These are all signs of feeling ungrounded and not being in the present moment.

Stress always causes me to feel ungrounded. It happens when I have a deadline for an assignment or an important meeting coming up. My mind, when not focused on the present moment, starts to bounce around to negative thoughts, making up unrealistic scenarios, and forgetting all of the positive things in my life. It’s like an alarm is going off nonstop in my brain and I can’t find the off switch! So stressful!

Let’s Get Grounded

When you are grounded, you’re in a state of mind where you are aware of what is happening in the present moment. You feel calm, and your mind is calm. You are focused on one thing. Your brain is not frantically jumping from one thought to another.

There are several techniques that you can use to feel more grounded in your everyday life. You can also use these techniques to help a friend or family member practice feeling more grounded. Here are two of my favorite go-to exercises when I feel ungrounded:

3-2-1 Breathing

I use this technique when I’m feeling extremely anxious. It focuses on using the breath to calm my mind and body. For me, it’s like pressing the “reset” button on my state of mind.

  • Stop what you are doing (unless you are using a machine or driving. If you are, please find a safe place before proceeding)
  • Find a quiet, safe space – this could be your bedroom, bathroom, or a quiet spot (if you are in a store/restaurant)
  • Take a deep breath
    • Breath in through your nose and hold it in for 3…2…1
    • Breath out through your mouth
    • Repeat
    • Repeat five more times or more

As you are breathing in and out, focus on your body. Try to feel the blood flowing through your body. Feel the air on your skin. When you are finished and before you return to what you were doing before, drink some water. I prefer to drink cool, not cold, water. Drink slowly. Resist the urge to chug the water and instead take one sip at a time. If you don’t have water, any drink is fine (no alcohol).

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise

5-4-3-2-1 techniqueAnother technique that I like to use is the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. This exercise helps you become more aware of your 5 senses (see, smell, hear, taste, and feel). I love this technique because it always helps me focus and calm my scattered thoughts, and it turns into a fun game!

  • Take a deep breath in and let it out
  • Look around you and name (either silently to yourself or out loud, quietly):
    • 5 things you can see
    • 4 things you can feel
    • 3 things you can hear
    • 2 things you can smell
    • 1 thing you can taste

These are two of my favorite grounding techniques that are quick, simple to do, and leave me feeling focused and calm. If you’re interested in learning more about different grounding techniques and exercises, you can visit here and here for some additional resources.

I wish you a very happy, focused, and calm Mindful Monday!

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Story by: Pratimajit Kaur, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch Residential Programs Manager
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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