In Anxiety Therapy

Overwhelming anxiety is a common thing in our day and age. You might be trying to cope with a stressful job or kept wide awake at 2am by runaway thoughts. Anxiety pulls you out of the present and wraps you up in future worry. Learning coping skills to better deal with anxiety is a good place to start.

woman overwhelmed with anxiety hoping she could control it

How Does The 54321 Grounding Method Help With Anxiety?

Being consumed by stress, worry, and anxiety can be quite a struggle. Racing thoughts coming up with negative scenarios, outcomes, and holding onto fears. The common issue with these thoughts is that they keep you out of the present. Rather, they keep you preoccupied with the future or the past.

There are many effective ways to manage anxiety; medication, therapy, and mindfulness practices. The best part of the 54321 grounding technique is that you can practice it anywhere, anytime.

An Easy Mindfulness Practice That Reduces Anxiety

Mindfulness is simply a type of meditation which helps a person to focus on the senses and feelings they are experienced in the moment. Without judgement, or interpretation of those feelings or senses. The exercise we talk about today is exactly such an exercise which helps to reduce anxiety.

woman using her 54321 grounding techniques to help reduce her anxiety

How To Do The 54321 Grounding Technique

This technique will help you work with your senses to get you back in the present. This technique offers calming and relaxation to help you cope through transition, change, difficult moments where anxiety and stress are at their highest. It does so by helping you slow down and pay attention to your senses.

Take a deep belly breath to begin.

5. See

Observe your physical surroundings; the room or place you are in, and find five things or items you can see. Say the name of them aloud. Simple state what you see, for example:

  • “I see a chair”
  • “I see a clock”
  • “I see a window”
  • “I see a door”
  • “I see a picture on the wall”

After spotting five things you can see in your nearby surroundings, we move on to feeling.

4. Feel

Close your eyes and take a moment to really feel your body. Use your feeling sense to describe four things that you feel. Say this outloud to yourself, for example:

  • “I feel my toes wiggling in my shoes”
  • “I feel the breeze against my skin”
  • “I feel my hair on my neck”
  • “I can feel my feet on the floor”

After you’ve named four things you can feel, next we move on to things we can hear.

3. Listen

Take a moment to listen closely to your surroundings. What do you hear? Name three sounds that you can hear. Thoughts about sounds you can hear might be:

  • “I hear the air pushing through the vents”
  • “I hear a dog barking in the distance”
  • “I hear the birds chirping through the window”
  • “I can hear distant traffic”

Once you’ve named three things you can hear, we move on to paying attention to smells.

2. Smell

Take a moment to bring awareness to your sense of smell. Notice two scents that might be in the room. Name two things you can smell, for example:

  • “I can smell the scent of the flowers that are in the vase”
  • “I can smell food cooking nearby”
  • “I can smell an air freshener in the room”

Sometimes it is difficult to connect with your sense of smell. If you’re having trouble naming two things, name two of your favourite smells.

1. Taste

Next, name one thing you can taste; close your eyes if you are having difficulty. Try to notice what you may have eaten recently. This might sound like:

  • “I can taste the mint from the gum I was chewing”
  • “I can taste the coffee that I had this morning”
  • “I can taste the tooth paste from brushing my teeth”

If you can not taste anything, visualize your favourite taste, and name it.

At last, take one more deep belly breath to end your mindfulness practice.

Back in The Now

This technique will have helped bring you back to a more present state of mind, removing all the mental stressors and giving you space to move forward in your day.

Use this technique anytime you are struggling with stress and anxiety. You can do this on the bus, at your desk, or anywhere you have the opportunity for a few moments to yourself.

man sits in doctors office paying attention to how his feet feel on the ground

The Body Exists in The Present Moment

Anxious thoughts can take many forms, often threatening and alarming. Such thoughts focus on past events, or fears of the future. These thoughts take us away in a dream land of sorts. We’re no longer as aware of what is happening the present. One trick to reining in anxiety, and healthier emotional state, is to focus on the now.

woman using her coping skill to reduce anxiety

Use The Body to Reconnect With The Present

The body is one of the easiest ways to reconnect your runaway thoughts with the present moment. It exists in the here and now, every moment of it’s existence depends on it. Your mind can run wild exploring every last anxious thought, as far into the future or past as it can.

Calming anxious thoughts and reclaiming mental space in the present moment is easier when we use our 5 senses. Regardless of how far off your mind wanders, the present is always here. The 54321 grounding technique helps to reclaim your awareness of the present.

woman grounding herself in the moment via the 54321 method

Calm Your Mind by Pulling it Out of Endless Rumination

This technique can also help people dealing with PTSD flashbacks, cravings, insomnia, and general stress. Any moment were the mind carries us off and dissociates us from the present.

Reconnecting with our five senses is a way of grounding ourselves, encouraging calm emotions, and reducing anxiety. The 54321 method is one of many grounding mindful techniques that can help achieve a state of calm.


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