Grounding: The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique 

By: Elizabeth Jeroy – The Gatehouse Placement Student, Community & Justice Services Diploma Program 

Grounding techniques often use the five senses to immediately connect you with the here and now. If you are experiencing overwhelming emotions or triggers, an example of some activities you can try include spending time with a pet, counting backwards from 100, or running your hands underwater. 

The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique 

The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique can be an especially effective grounding activity. It uses all 5 senses to connect with your surroundings. 

First, look around and list five things you can see. This could include acknowledging the weather and listing the furniture in the room or any other objects in your vicinity.  

Next, reach out to four things you can touch such as your pet or a soft blanket. 

The third step is to listen for three things you can hear. Do you have the tv or radio on? Can you hear birds chirping outside?  

Then search for two things you can smell. Maybe you have flowers in your home or a nice meal cooking. 

Lastly, identify one thing you can taste, such as a coffee or snack you are enjoying. 

Check-In with Yourself 

If you are new to mindfulness or a seasoned professional, it is beneficial to check in with yourself to know if a grounding technique works for you. 

Before beginning a grounding exercise, rate your distress as a number between 1 & 10 

Once you have completed the activity, rate your stress level again. This will help you gauge whether a particular technique is effective for you.