Health Hint: Grounding Techniques for Anxiety

May 5, 2021

Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness.  We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life.  Check out our latest Health Hint on grounding techniques to ease anxiety.  We hope you find it helpful.  If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities. 

Normal life comes with its fair share of stressors- pressure to succeed at work, maintaining our health, caring for loved ones, or any number of situations can make us feel stressed. Living through a pandemic on top of all that can feel downright overwhelming. With all of the unknowns plaguing our lives, more Canadians than ever are reporting diagnoses of anxiety (CTV), while many more may remain undiagnosed due to lack of access to mental health supports.

While any ‘return to normalcy’ remains uncertain, some people who struggle with anxious thoughts about the future might find some relief in simple (and free!) grounding techniques to keep our minds in the present.

The 54321 Grounding Technique

This exercise is all about directing your thoughts into your present time and space through simple observation of your surroundings. You can do it once or several times throughout the day, or try it after putting away your devices as you get ready for bed.

In this order, make observations using your senses. These things don’t have to have any special significance and there are no wrong answers.

* Currently, this technique has not been adapted for people experiencing loss of one or more senses, so we recommend skipping any number that doesn’t suit your body. The goal is to connect to your surroundings, and finding your best way to do that is within reach.

5. Observe five things you can see in your immediate surroundings. Furniture, photos, a cobweb, or a bird overhead.

4. Observe four things you can feel with your body. The coolness of a tabletop, your clothing, or the temperature of the air around you.

3. Observe three things you can hear right now. Someone typing, faraway music, even the hum of appliances.

2. Observe two things you can smell. Grass, exhaust, laundry detergent, or a houseplant.

1. Observe one thing you can taste. Maybe you have just had a sip of a drink, or can still taste your toothpaste. If you don’t taste anything, that in itself is an observation and you can note that.

After completing this cycle, you should find that you feel more connected to your surroundings and less focused on future unknowns. You may find it easier to focus on tasks and complete achievable daily goals. Hopefully it will bring you some calm.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by AJ Ware

NOTE: This article is intended to provide general health tips based on available research. You should consult with a health care professional for specific medical and dietary instructions that are right for you.


Flanagan, R. (2021, January 14). Canadians reporting more anxiety and depression than ever before, poll finds. Coronavirus.

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Sarah Wood

Executive Director
tel: 437-925-6227


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