by Satya (Tricia) Hurley, M.Ed.

Anxiety and overwhelm is something most people experience at varying times in their life.  Did you know, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America1 anxiety disorders affect 18% of adults and 25% of children ages 13-18? Michael and I see many folks come to our practice for support with both situational and diagnosed stress and anxiety-related challenges.  Regular treatment in either Reiki or acupuncture, along with appropriate medical care, does wonders to support overall balance. And there are things you can do at home too.

One of my favorite anxiety self-care techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique because it’s something straightforward that you can do anytime and anywhere to relieve stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.  In this article, we’ll explore how to do this technique and why it works from a holistic and mindful perspective.

Holistic body-mind-spirit and body-based trauma theories acknowledge an integral connection between these three parts of our being. A heightened state of anxiety has a direct impact on our central nervous system.  Our fight, flight, freeze response is activated, creating a sort of tunnel vision.  In this space, we are disconnected from our thinking, rational mind.

Holistic theories suggest that one of the most effective ways to restore a state of calm is to reconnect with the breath and the body.  No matter what the trigger, we can use this information to draw upon resources that anchor us back to the present moment and re-engage with the rational, thinking part of our brain.  In mindfulness, we describe this as bringing the mind home to the body. When we bring the mind home to the body, we use the breath and the senses to bring about a state of calm awareness. When in a grounded and present state, we have greater access to supportive inner resources that can more effectively help us navigate whatever situation is at hand.

Grounding is a resource that helps us anchor to the present moment. When we feel present, we are able to access supportive inner resources more readily.  The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique is a simple, safe, and effective tool to engage the 5 Senses.  It can be done anytime, anywhere.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

First, use your breath to center.  Begin by inviting in a long, slow, deep breath.  Let it fill your entire being.  When the breath is ready to exhale, do so as slowly as when the breath came in.  It helps to do about 3-5 breaths like this to begin.

5 Things You Can See; 4 things You Can Touch; 3 Things You Can Hear; 2 Things You Can Smell; 1 Thing You Can Taste

Repeat 5-4-3-2-1 as many times as needed to bring a sense of calm.  If possible, spend a few minutes after in quiet, centered breathing.  I love that this is a tool you can do immediately and relatively discretely, pretty much anywhere.  Its use of the five senses makes it a fantastic anchor to reconnect with your body and with the present moment!

Enjoy and have fun playing with this at any time!  It works equally effectively with children, teens, and adults.

1https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics