5,4,3,2,1 METHOD

We have all experienced times of anxiety in our lives.  Whether it is on a daily basis or brought on by big life events such as taking finals in school or a big presentation at work. In life, everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. For most people, feelings of anxiety come and go with some passing after the big event. 

For those with anxiety/ panic disorders it can be brought on by almost anything. These feelings of anxiety are more than just passing worries or a stressful day. Anxiety may not go away for many weeks, months, or years. It can worsen over time, sometimes becoming so severe that it interferes with your daily life.

When you feel anxious, your body goes on high alert, looking for possible danger and activating your fight or flight responses. 

This five-step exercise can be very helpful during periods of anxiety or panic by helping to ground you in the present when your mind is bouncing around between various anxious thoughts. I have personally used this method many times with my children (who suffer from anxiety and panic disorder) and it is extremely successful in refocusing them and calming them down.

Go through the following steps to help ground yourself: 

Anxiety Coping Technique
     5. Acknowledge 5 THINGS around you that you can SEE-  Maybe it’s a clock on the wall, a book on the table, clouds moving  past, however big or small, recognize 5 items you can see with your  eyes. When I first started using this with my kids we used colors - find 5 things that are blue. This gave them a specific task, I found telling my children to acknowledge 5 things was too stressful and broad of a task.  


Anxiety Coping Technique



    4.  Acknowledge 4 THINGS around you that you can TOUCHMaybe it’s the pen you are holding, the park bench you are sitting on,  your cell phone, your clothes.  Recognize 4 items you can feel  with your hands or body.




Grounding technique for anxiety

      3. Acknowledge 3 THINGS around you     that you can HEAR-  Maybe it’s the laughter   of children at  the park, birds chirping,   construction work down the street.  Try to tune in to hear a clock ticking or the hum of a refrigerator.  Name the 3 things you hear.




Coping skills for anxiety



 2.  Acknowledge 2 THINGS around you that you can SMELL.   This one may be tricky but it can be anything at all.  Take a quick sniff at your deodorant, sniff the pencil in your hand or your hair! If possible, walk to a bathroom to smell soap.    




54321 Method of grounding for anxiety


 1.  Acknowledge 1 positive THING around you that you can taste.  This is the most common way to end this exercise. Another option I have used with my children is to acknowledge one positive thing about yourself.   Positive  thinking can help bring about a positive feeling in yourself. 



I know how difficult it can be to stop and think about all of these steps when you are in the midst of an anxiety/panic attack. It is difficult to remember to breathe sometimes--so how can you possibly remember all these steps?! I suggest practicing this method often so when you do feel anxious/panic it will almost be second nature. I also suggest sharing it with your loved ones so they work through the method with you. 

Smile, Breathe and Go Slowly....

XOXO ~ Andrea