Strategies for Calm

Simple Strategies for Calm


Try these simple strategies when you feel overwhelmed or just need a break.

They can also be used with your children to relax together.

  • Grounding 54321
  • STOP
  • 30-3-30
  • Circles of control

Grounding 5-4-3-2-1

If you feel overwhelmed or panicky, or your mind is full of unwelcome thoughts, pause for a moment and tune into your surroundings. Focus your attention, and name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can feel
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

With practice, this will help you calm yourself.


The 30-3-30 exercise gives you a ‘store’ of small things you can do at intervals during the day, which give you a break but do not take up much time:

Make a list – what can you do for 30 seconds?

  • 54321 exercise (see above)
  • Walk around the room and stretch your arms and legs
  • What else?

What can you do for 3 minutes?

  • Enjoy a cup of tea
  • Listen to a song
  • Solve a puzzle e.g. sudoku or Wordle
  • What else?

What can you do for 30 minutes?

  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Have a relaxing bath
  • Call a friend
  • What else?

For more ideas look at this wellbeing and coping article.


Similar to the Grounding 5-4-3-2-1 exercise, this is another way of being ‘in the moment’ and distracting yourself is to STOP for a while:


Stand up and breathe deeply and slowly.
Tune in to how your body feels. Drink in any pleasant sensations, such as sun on your skin, with each in-breath. Imagine any unpleasant thoughts or feelings leaving you with each out-breath.
Observe – look around you and find something beautiful or interesting to enjoy.
Possibility – ask yourself what one thing you could do next, or what might be possible soon?

Circles of control

In life, there are some things we can control, some things we can only partly influence, and others which we can’t control at all.

Use this sheet or draw your own to help you think about whether all the things you worry about or feel responsible for are actually within your control. Place all the things you worry about in the correct circle. When you think about it, you will see that many things are completely outside your control, even if you would like to change them – what has happened in the past, for example, cannot be changed, but you can change what you do next.

If you can control something, you can take action. If you cannot influence something or someone, do not get upset about it. If you cannot control something at all, do not waste energy getting stressed about it.

Focus on what you can change, not on what you cannot.

Mindfulness meditation

There are many guided meditations for relaxation online, including children’s ones such as this video and relaxation and breathing exercises and body scans such as these from Wellbeing Services South Glasgow.

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Website last revised 31 March 2023
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