Relaxation Techniques – 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

For our third-part blog series on relaxation techniques in honour of stress awareness month, we’re looking at the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique falls within the category of a ‘grounding technique’. The purpose of grounding techniques is to turn your attention away from your thoughts and back to being in the present moment – it’s very difficult to feel stressed or anxious if you are truly in the present moment. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique allows us to do so simply, by using our five senses to list and describe things around us.

What’s particularly convenient about this technique is that you can use it anywhere, plus it’s easy to remember.  Here’s how you do it:

As always, start by taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth (visit our previous blog on box-breathing for help with this.

5: What are 5 things you can see? Look for small details maybe the ways the light reflects off the water or a pattern on the ceiling.

4: What are 4 things you can feel or touch? Notice the sensation of clothes on your body, the sun on your skin, wind through your hair – describe it. Try picking something up and noticing its weight and texture.

3: What are 3 things you can hear? Pay attention to sounds your mind has tuned out from, maybe the lapping of waves on the boat or a distant ticking clock.

2: What are 2 things you can smell? Notice smells in the air like the salty musk or sun cream on your face. You may also look for something scented, maybe a flower or bar of soap.

1: What is 1 thing you can taste? Have a snack or chew some gum and focus your attention on the flavours.

And that’s all there is to it!  Here is a video that guides you through the steps.

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