Those of us who struggle with anxiety may go from feeling okay to extremely anxious in seconds. It can be difficult to pinpoint why this feeling happens or when it will happen.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Method
When we are experiencing anxiety, it can feel overwhelming and surreal. We can find it challenging to decipher what’s real and what’s not.
Something that can help in the moment is to practice relaxing with the 5-4-3-2-1 method. These steps use mindfulness to reconnect us with our bodies and minds. They can help us focus on the reality that is around us, which can anchor us to the present. Through this connection, we can lessen the overwhelming anxiety we feel to a more manageable level.
5 Things We Can See
Looking around the space we are in and naming five things that we see can begin the process of bringing ourselves back to the present. We can start to realize that we are safe in the space we are occupying. Through visually reconnecting with our surroundings, we remind ourselves that whatever is making us anxious is not a threat that needs to disconnect us from the present moment.
4 Things We Can Touch
Once we acknowledge five things we see, we can find four things that we can physically touch. By grasping tangible objects, we reassure ourselves that we are real, our environment is real, and what we are feeling is real. We can connect what we are feeling, to what we are touching. For example, we can hold a pillow to comfort us or grab onto the arm of our couch. We can pet our cats or any animal we may have as they walk by and feel the comfort they provide.
3 Things We Can Hear
After we make an effort to touch four things around us, we can take a minute to notice three different sounds in our environment. By consciously using our senses, we can tune into our bodies to distract us from the anxiety we are feeling. This can increase our connection to the present moment and calm us down. We might hear the birds outside chirping or the distant chatter of people talking. We can listen to the cars driving by or the wind in the trees.
2 Things We Can Smell
We might be experiencing anxiety in our house or a restaurant. Maybe we are feeling overwhelmed while running errands or going for a walk at the park. Regardless of where we are, we can pick up on two different smells to help us cope with anxiety.
For example, we might smell fresh flowers and grass at the park. We may smell the breeze coming in through our window or the food around us at a restaurant. Whatever smells we take in can further our journey back from anxiety. We can take deep breaths and release them slowly.
1 Thing We Can Taste
The last step in the 5-4-3-2-1 method to help cope with anxiety is to taste one thing. This will conclude our use of the five senses to bring ourselves back to the present from a state of chaos.
If we have trouble tasting things, we might keep gum or mints on us and use those as the one thing we can taste. As with the previous steps, using the sense of taste reconnects our minds to the current reality of our body and reminds us that, at least in this moment, we are okay.
Involving Friends and Family
If we have supportive friends or family, we can let them know about the 5-4-3-2-1 method. The next time we are feeling an anxiety attack around them, they can help us find our 5-4-3-2-1 in our environment. By involving our loved ones, we can gain comfort from their support and encouragement.
We all have unique journeys. We may be struggling with substance abuse, addiction, mental health issues, or the challenges of simply making it through another day. Whatever our journeys are, we can find relief in the fact that people are out there who can help. No matter how bad our anxiety is, we can find a mental health treatment program that can help us learn how to take back control of our lives.
As we learn how to manage our anxiety, we need to remember to be patient with ourselves. It might take us a little longer to reach a point of mental stability, and we might have to use different tactics than others, but we can get there. We are worth getting there.
Dealing with anxiety can feel hopeless at times. We might not always know how to calm ourselves down, which can lead to becoming even more overwhelmed. A coping mechanism that can be helpful is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. We can name five things we see, four things we are touching, three things we hear, two things we smell, and one thing we taste. Practicing this method can help reduce our anxiety in the moment by anchoring us to the present. We can acknowledge where we are, who we are with, and what is currently happening. We can let our loved ones know about the 5-4-3-2-1 way of dealing with anxiety, and they can help us when needed. Support from our friends and family is important to our healing process, and the way we live our lives. For help with anxiety, call 449 Recovery at (949) 435-7449.