Understand the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique For Anxiety

In this blog we discuss the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique for anxiety and panic attacks.

January 24, 2024

Anxiety and panic attacks can feel overwhelming in the moment, but there are some simple coping mechanisms that can help you get back in control. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a grounding technique that helps anchor you to the present moment instead of letting your thoughts race uncontrollably. Through this article we will discuss what it is, how it helps, and complementary methods to the technique.

What is the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique?

The first thing to do is take a long deep breath in, hold, and slowly exhale. Deep breathing is a prerequisite to meditation, so it is important to practice this daily. Once you feel things are slowing down, begin the following exercises.

1) Look for 5 things you can see

Whether you’re outside on indoors, count five unique items in sight. This can range from the grass and trees to a mug, chair, or even the carpet. The point is to just find various things in your surrounding area.

2) Acknowledge 4 things you can touch

When starting out, you can begin with just your own various body parts such as your fingers or legs if you need to go through the exercise quickly. If you have more time,    look for external items that are within your reach, anywhere from a pen to your keyboard.

3) Pay attention to 3 things you can hear

Instead of listening to your own thoughts while you are anxious or panicked, think about noises you can hear. You might hear birds chirping or pen clicks. No matter what it is, pick up on three distinct sounds.

4) Find 2 things you can smell

This step is typically the hardest as you may not be in an environment with stimulating scents. If you don’t have the time or ability to go find things to smell then you can try smelling the furniture or items around you.

5) Shift your awareness to 1 thing you can taste

The final part of this technique is acknowledging one thing around you that you can taste. Another alternative to this is to think about one positive attribute about yourself to try to counteract the negative thoughts you were having before starting the exercise.

At the end of completing all five parts, become aware of how much calmer you are feeling. Always remember that your anxiety is temporary and will pass, and the more you practice various grounding techniques the easier it will be to overcome it.

How Do Grounding Techniques Help Anxiety?

Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present, and the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety technique helps you to reconnect with the present. By focusing upon your senses, you are shifting your thoughts away from “what-if” scenarios and thinking about only present sensations.

The benefits of grounding techniques can extend beyond slowing down a panic attack. They can be used to aid with insomnia, daily stress, and anything else when the mind is overactive. The more you use them, the more you may notice long-term effects that allow you to feel calmer throughout your day.

What Complementary Methods Exist to the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Method?

As discussed briefly earlier, deep breathing methods can really help bridge the gap between an anxious and calm mind. By practicing long, deep breaths with your inhalation and exhalation, you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system and training your mind and body to combat anxiety.

One less conventional method of doing so is through breathing tools, such as those by Moksha. A tech-enabled tool that also serves as a deep breathing tool for anxiety is the perfect balance between grounding techniques and deep breathing.


January 24, 2024

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