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Restoring balance when feeling overwhelmed

Life can throw us curveballs, leaving us feeling like we’re caught in a whirlwind of emotions. Whether it’s work deadlines, relationship struggles, or unexpected changes, moments of feeling overwhelmed happen to many of us. But there are simple techniques we can use to ground ourselves and restore our balance. 


Simple ways to ground yourself 

When life feels overwhelming, grounding techniques can act as anchors, bringing us back to the present. We can ground ourselves and find stability by redirecting our attention away from racing thoughts and overwhelming emotions. 

Five senses 

Five Senses is one way to ground yourself by using your senses to engage with your immediate surroundings. To do this activity, take a moment and name: 

  • Five things you can see: Take a moment to observe and name five things you can see. 
  • Four things you can feel: Tune into your physical sensations and identify four things you can touch or feel. This could even be the sensation of where your body is touching a chair or how the table feels under your hand.  
  • Three things you can hear: Listen intently for three distinct sounds around you. See if you can name them.  
  • Two things you can smell: Bring awareness to your sense of smell and identify two scents in your environment. Think about if there are any memories attached to these smells. 
  • One thing you can taste: Notice any taste lingering in your mouth or take a mindful sip of a beverage. A sweet flavour can give you a short-term boost, a cool drink can be refreshing, and a hot drink can feel comforting or soothing.  

More ways to restore balance and connect with the present 

Below are other grounding activities you can try when you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Name things in a category – Choose a general category (e.g. books, TV shows, football teams) and name as many things as possible. You can also do this by looking around the room. For example, you can choose colours as your category and name as many things as you can see in that category. 

Focus on your breath – Ground yourself in the present moment by taking slow, deliberate breaths and focusing on the sensation of each inhale and exhale. For more examples, read our article on breathing exercises 

Listen to sounds – Tune into the landscape around you and identify different sounds in your environment. 

Hold a small object – Keep a small, tactile object close by and hold it. Focus your attention on the shape, texture, and how it feels in your hand. 

Look around – Take in the sights around you, observing the details of your surroundings to anchor yourself in the present. 

Mindfulness – Dedicate time to mindfulness meditation, allowing yourself to observe your thoughts without judgment and return to the present moment. 

Touch something cool – Apply a cool cloth to your face or hold a cold object to create a calming sensation and ground yourself in the present. 

Counting – Redirect your focus by counting backward from 20.  

You can also listen to relaxing music, cook a meal, or exercise. 


If you feel overwhelmed and find it hard to restore balance, you do not have to go through this alone. You can make an appointment to see your GP, speak with a trusted family member or friend, or call a free helpline like CAREinMIND to talk with a counsellor. 


Concerned? Talk to a professional counsellor on 1300 096 269. It is free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by Lifeline. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.