Anxiety is something many of us experience during our day to day, be it at work, before having a difficult conversation or just randomly when a thought pops into our head. Grounding ourselves in the safety of the present moment can provide a break from this experience. With anxiety our brain and body often trick us into thinking we are unsafe while we are experiencing it. This is a tool I used with my clients to help form neural connections that facilitate feeling safe and grounded in the present moment.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique
First I will invite you to place one hand over your heart and one hand over your belly focusing on the breath coming in through your nose and out through your nose, if it feels safe to do so. If this is too overwhelming you can focus your attention on an object in the room to start while you continue to breath in and out.
5 – Acknowledge 5 things that you see around you (this could be the wall, a chair, anything around you)
4 – Acknowledge 4 things you can touch around you (this can be your clothing, your hair, anything within reach)
3 – Acknowledge 3 things that you can hear (this can be a bird singing, the fan blowing or traffic outside)
2 – Acknowledge 2 things you can smell (this can be your cup of coffee or tea, the scent of incense or the freshly cut grass outside)
1 – Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste (this can be what you had for lunch earlier, the gum you have in your mouth)
Finish this off by noticing the shift in your physical self, is your breathing deeper? are your thoughts calmer? do you notice less activation in your body?
Practice helps facilitate new neural pathways because neurons that fire together wire together!
The first few times you try this it may be hard to focus, you may notice intrusive thoughts, however, the more you practice and pair this with those high anxiety moments the quicker your brain will go to feeling safe in your surroundings.