I recently saw an article about a method of controlling one’s anxiety. I don’t remember where I saw it, and there are a bunch of websites that talk about it, but I will give my credit to mayoclinichealthsystem.com, because they came up first when I googled it.

Here’s the deal: Next time you are feeling anxious, try the following exercise:

Sit. Stop. Breathe>

  1. Notice 5 things you can see
  2. Notice 4 things you can touch/feel
  3. Notice 3 things you can hear
  4. Notice 2 things you can smell
  5. Notice 1 thing you can taste

If I was feeling anxious as I write (but let’s face it the anxiety is in hitting PUBLISH) I would use this exercise in following way:

I can see:

  1. My pen holder that says WRITE (a gift from a writing buddy)
  2. My coaster that looks like the cover of Green Eggs and Ham (A gift from my daughter because that was her favorite book when she was little and the book she read to her Pre K class when she learned to read)
  3. The Lightscape flyer from the Botanic Garden- an event I plan on attending
  4. Pink handled scissors
  5. A tissue

I can touch:

  1. My arms as I stretch
  2. My keyboard
  3. the smooth surface of my desk
  4. My furry hot water bottle cover that is anchoring my lower back on the chair

I can Hear:

  1. Runaway, the song my Husband is playing as he works in my daughter’s bedroom
  2. A truck going down the street
  3. a humming sound coming from probably upstairs where they are doing work

I can smell:

  1. lemon oil diffuser
  2. laundry detergent scent on my t shirt

I can taste:

  1. the sugar in my milky Golden Nepal tea

I really like this little exercise for grounding myself, also for getting me into writing mode, or relaxing mode. I don’t think we pay enough attention to our senses, and I think these experiences are undervalued in our world of screens and apps. Sometimes the simplest things really are the best.

47 thoughts on “5 4 3 2 1

  1. Mindful exercises like this are a great way to get the focus off our anxieties and tuned in to our bodies and the environment around us. I’m curious to know if you’ll share this with your mom. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You have to want change before it can happen. My unprofessional guess is that you mother gets something out of her anxiety–attention, perhaps? This is a good idea and I like the step by step process and your example rather than just toss out to someone–“you need to be more mindful.” That is truly not helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I tried to tell her this method, which resulted in the β€œI’ve been anxious my whole life” rant, which led me to the don’t use it as an excuse thing

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great. I will have to save this list.
    I recently had some episodes with facial pain. I went to a few physical therapy sessions and then looked up some exercises myself. One was breathing while puffing out your cheeks as if you were blowing up a balloon. I found that particular exercise had the additional benefit of helping push the reset button so to speak.


  3. Good advice. I would probably focus on the first 5 things I can see. My husband, my husband’s brother visiting, the tree man outside at the neighbor, the ice cream truck of the neighbor. There is so much activity this morning that I need to go to the next senses to continue my mindfulness. Have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am hearing interesting background conversation between my husband and brother and I am smelling the scallops defrosting nearby in the kitchen. I am looking forward to another cup of coffee hearing the electric saw zuum of the tree cutters next door as the pug pitter patters across the wood floor.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just saw/heard about this technique- maybe on TV? or in a book? I don’t remember actually but I can see how the need to focus in a systemic way can be grounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I will have to try this! Lately, I’ve had anxiety at night and can’t sleep. I’ll have to think about how I can adapt it for those nights When my heart is racing and I can’t relax. Thanks for sharing. Im going to print it out now.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nice technique! Although I don’t think it would have helped me when I received a letter from the Dept of Revenue telling me I owed them instead them owing me. Yikes! Turns out, I was right and they were wrong, but it pretty much ruined a week getting it straightened out

    Liked by 1 person

  8. While reading this, I suddenly became aware of the gentle whoosh of the air conditioning, the snoring of my cat beside me, the feel of the keyboard beneath my fingers, and the lingering taste of diet root beer.

    Definitely a great way to ground yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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