When stress gets too much and anxiety overwhelms you, it’s hard to find a way out. One way to help bring yourself back to the present and away from the stress is by using the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. It’s easy to remember, quick to do, and helps to take you out of the stressful thoughts in your head and ground you in the world around you.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique essentially sums up everything you’re seeing, smelling, touching, and hearing in the moment. It’s especially good because you can do it anywhere and it won’t draw any attention to you.
Here are the five steps:
List five things that you can see right now.
For example; I see a cup of coffee, an open window, a biro, a wastepaper bin, and a blue hoodie.
List four things you can hear.
Even if it’s quiet, listen really closely for the small sounds. Is there a background hum of electricity? Can you hear any traffic in the distance?
List three things you can feel.
I can feel my feet on the floor, the breeze across my face, and the feeling of my jeans against my skin.
List two things you can smell.
If you can’t immediately smell anything, try looking for something nearby that you can smell. Maybe the smell of a book on your desk, or the faint scent of perfume on your wrist.
Name one thing that you can taste.
If you can’t taste anything right now, name one thing near you that you’re grateful for.
If you still feel panicky after going through the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise, try doing it again but naming different things for each step. By focusing on each of your senses in turn, your brain has to concentrate on something new and it really will help to take you out of the stress spiral.