3-3-3 Technique: A simple grounding method to calm anxiety

This easy and simple 3-3-3 method will help shift your focus from anxious thoughts and feelings, to the present moment.

3-3-3 Technique: A simple grounding method to calm anxiety
That knot in your stomach, the racing thoughts or the feeling in your throat that you just can’t shake. Anxiety can be spontaneous visitor or a passenger through your everyday life. So here’s a simple, science-backed technique that can help shake the immediate feelings of anxiety and promote a sense of calm.

What is the 3-3-3 Technique?

The 3-3-3 technique is a grounding exercise that utilises your senses to shift your focus away from anxiety and into the present moment. It’s a simple method that can be done anywhere, any time. You simply identify 3 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, and then move 3 body parts (or take 3 deep breaths).
Grounding techniques can be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms through mindfulness. They are exercises that distract your brain from racing thoughts or feelings by zoning in on your surroundings in the present.

How to use the 3-3-3 technique

The 3-3-3 grounding technique is incredibly easy and can be used when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
  1. 👀 Focus on 3 things you can see Look around you and identify three things you can see. Focus on details – the vibrant colour of a flower, the intricate pattern on your shirt, or the sunlight filtering through the window.
  1. 🤲 Focus on 3 things you can touch Close your eyes for a moment and listen actively for three sounds. Maybe it's the hum of the refrigerator, the chirping of birds outside, or the gentle tick of a clock.
  1. 💪 Move 3 parts of your body Take a deep breath and feel your chest rise and fall, roll your shoulders slowly or clench and unclench your hands. Focus on the physical sensations in your body.
You can spend as much time as you want focusing on each element. Repeat the exercise as many times as needed until you feel calmer.
Breath yourself calmer. Here’s 5 breathing techniques to help you feel calm.

When to use the 3-3-3 technique?

The 3-3-3 technique is incredibly versatile and can be used anytime you're feeling anxious, and is especially useful for those moments when anxiety hits you fast. If you’re running late or just before stepping into a meeting can be a great time to use the 3-3-3 technique for anxiety.
  • In the heat of the moment: Feeling overwhelmed at work? Take a few minutes to do the 3-3-3 method and bring yourself back to calm.
  • Before a stressful event: Got a big presentation coming up? Use the 3-3-3 technique beforehand to centre yourself and boost your confidence.
  • As part of a relaxation routine: Integrate the 3-3-3 exercise into your daily routine for a quick and easy way to manage stress and anxiety.
For times when you’re feeling more anxious (or have more time) you might want a more comprehensive method. A similar version of the 3-3-3 method which taps into all five senses, is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.

The bigger picture: The 5 senses method

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique expands on the 3-3-3 by incorporating all five senses. Think of it as the deluxe version if you have a bit more time or feeling a little more uneasy. This involves focusing on 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

How to Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique:

  1. 👀 Focus on 5 things you see Look around you and identify five things you can see. It can be anything – a lamp, a plant, a picture on the wall. The key is to really focus on the details of each object.
  1. 🤲 Touch 4 things near you Pay attention to your sense of touch. Feel the texture of your clothes, the coolness of the floor beneath your feet, or the warmth of a cup of coffee in your hands.
  1. 👂 Focus on 3 things you can hear Listen actively for three sounds. Maybe it's the hum of the refrigerator, the chirping of birds outside, or the sound of your own breath.
  1. 👃 Focus on 2 things you can smell Take a deep breath through your nose. What can you smell? Freshly cut grass, your favourite lotion, or maybe just the neutral scent of the room.
  1. 👅 Focus on 1 thing you can taste Pop a piece of gum, savour a sip of your drink, or simply notice the natural taste in your mouth.

The takeaway

The 3-3-3 technique is a powerful tool for managing anxiety. It's simple to remember, easy to use, and can be done anywhere, anytime. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, focus on your senses, and breathe easy with the power of three.

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