The 3-3-3 Rule For Anxiety: What Is It And How It Helps

Last Update on February 14, 2023 : Published on August 18, 2021
The 3-3-3 Rule For Anxiety

Imagine you’re sitting in your room, relaxing, then out of nowhere your palms begin to sweat, your heart rate increases, and you feel out of control – this is what having anxiety feels like. One moment you’ll be relaxing and the next, you’ll be feeling all out of sorts…

For many people, anxiety is triggered by an event such as an argument, moving to a new city, or going through a tough time. Other times, anxiety can be triggered by your bottled-up emotions, feelings, or thoughts.

It is completely normal to get overwhelmed or nervous but when these feelings are persistent and begin to interfere with your daily functioning, then it can be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. One of the most common anxiety disorders (worldwide) is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD, which can cause panic, overwhelming fear, heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, or even experience panic.

Of course, to help with anxiety, there are some long-term and short-term therapy treatments or
medications. But everyone struggling with any anxiety disorder can’t benefit from making
lifestyle changes or alternative ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Then, what can help with anxiety?

In this article, I’ll be helping you understand one particular self-help strategy to manage anxiety. The 3-3-3 Rule For Anxiety. Practicing this 333 rule will help you relax your body, find your center, and regain your control.

The 3-3-3 Rule For Anxiety

The 3-3-3 Rule For Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, stress, or even panic attacks there are some things you can try to ease your mind.

This 333 rule might not seem as extensive as other techniques but it is a very simple yet effective technique to reduce stress and find your calm, even if you’re overwhelmed at work.

Whether you sense your anxiety at work or home, the 333 rule for anxiety asks you to focus on:

1. Sight

Take a pause and look around you. Bring your attention to three physical objects around you. Look at them and name them. Pay close attention to the details. For example; You see a flower vase, a bottle of water, and a book. Pay close attention to each object. What color is the vase, what about the design? Is the water bottle full? Is it cold, hot? What kind of book is it? Paperback, hardcover?

2. Sound

Next, you need to look around for three things that are within your sight and hearing range. Listen to three sounds you can hear and name them. Again, pay close attention to the details, for example; the pitch, the cadence of each sound.

3. Touch

The last thing you need to do is engage your sense of touch. Choose three body parts you can move. You can use your arm, legs, and ankles for this part. For example; wiggle your toes, rotate your ankles, tap your fingers, move your arms, etc.

With the three senses engaged – sight, sound, and touch – you can create a soothing symphony in your mind to pull you out of your panic.

webmd psychologist on 333 anxiety rule

Combined with deep breathing, the 333 rule can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Practicing this technique will help with anxiety, center your mind, and bring you to the present

The Benefits Of The 3-3-3 Rule


Living with anxiety or an anxiety disorder is not easy but when you employ the right techniques, managing anxiety and panic can be easy. If you’re constantly struggling with managing your anxiety or being overwhelmed at work, you can practice the 333 rule.

By practicing this technique, you can learn to:

  • Helps you pull away from negative emotions and feelings
  • Keep your mind away from unwanted thoughts
  • Helps distract your mind from the panic
  • Helps you stay in the present moment

Grounding techniques such as the 333 rule may not be easy to practice when you’re in the middle of a panic attack, and especially difficult when dealing with anxiety at work. It might take time to build the technique but keep practicing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Does the 333 rule work for anxiety?

The 333 rule of anxiety is very simple and works wonders! All you need to do is look around you and name three things you see, three things around you hear, and three things you can touch or move around your body. This mental trick to calm anxiety is very helpful as it takes your attention from what’s causing you to feel anxious to focus on something you can control.

Q2: How can I reduce anxiety immediately?

When you’re feeling anxious, all you need to do is bring yourself to the present moment and pay notice of attention to the little things around you. For example, pay attention to the book in front of you and take in the details of the book; the color of the book, the texture of the cover, etc. Now you need to look for sounds that you can hear, for example, the tweets of the birds. Pay attention to it. Next, you need to move three body parts, for example, wiggle your toes, tap your fingers, or move your arms around.

This 333 anxiety rule is a way to reduce anxiety immediately.

Q3: What are 3 strategies for managing anxiety?

To manage anxiety, you need to

  1. Regulate your breathing: Anxiety makes your breathing shallow and fast. To calm down from your anxious high, you need to slow down your breathing.
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation: Anxiety can also make you tense your muscles and make you feel stiff. To relax your muscles, the best way is to deliberately tense them and then release them while paying attention to the sensations created.
  3. Be in the present moment: When you’re anxious, your mind ruminates on negative thinking of the past or worries about the future. To avoid this thinking, you need to be present in the moment. That can be done by practicing the 3-3-3 anxiety rule.

Q4: How do you get rid of anxiety in 5 minutes?

To get rid of anxiety in 5 minutes, you can:

  1. Practice the 3-3-3 anxiety rule
  2. Sniff some lavender essential oil
  3. Watch a calming video on YouTube
  4. Go for a quick walk in nature
  5. Listen to your favorite songs
  6. Identify your anxious feelings and their causes
  7. Identify the triggers and eliminate them
  8. Walk away from the stressful situation

Top Tips for When Using the 3-3-3 Rule for Anxiety

  • Even if you don’t feel distressed, keep practicing the technique. It might come in handy when you do experience distress.
  • Don’t wait. If you just feel a little stressed, practice the grounding exercise. It’s better to not wait for when the stress or anxiety becomes too much.
  • When you’re practicing the 333 rule, make sure you keep your focus on your environment only. Don’t focus on your feelings but the things around you.
  • Check in with yourself 10 minutes before and after. Rating your distress before and after can help you understand how well your grounding technique worked.
  • Keep your eyes open. Many people find closing their eyes helpful but when you’re practicing the 333 rule, make sure you keep your eyes open.

Grounding techniques, whichever you prefer, can help you regain control, find your calm, and help relax. If these techniques are not helping, it is suggested you reach out to a professional for help. Remember, this technique can also help if you’re struggling with generalized anxiety, health anxiety, or just overwhelmed at work.

Coping Strategies For Anxiety

If you’re still struggling with anxiety despite practicing the 333 rule for anxiety, here are some coping strategies that might help you;

  • When you feel anxious, take some time and remove yourself from the situation. Take a walk or listen to some calming music. Just stop and distract yourself from the situation.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol or caffeine in this case because these beverages can make your anxiety worse.
  • Get some naps and eat a healthy meal. Your body can give signals to your brain too so make sure your body is taken care of.
  • Take deep and mindful breaths. Try to focus on the present moment and sensations going through your body in the present moment.
  • Try gentle movement exercises like yoga for anxiety or tai chi. These exercises can be great ways to reduce excessive adrenaline and calm down the stress response.

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I hope this article helped you understand the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety. If you found this article helpful, let us know in the comments below!

Be kind to yourself.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.


  1. Heidi Zschach
    Heidi Zschach

    Golden! I appreciate this article so much. Thank you for putting it out into the world. Sending big smiles and warmth your way!!

  2. Nancy

    Ready to practice this strategy

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