5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique to Calm Yourself Down (from Anxiety)

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If you are looking for a grounding technique to calm yourself down from anxiety, this article is for you!

You’ll learn how to calm yourself down in a few minutes.

The best part? You can use it wherever you are!

Let’s dive right in!

What are grounding techniques?

It is important to know that grounding techniques are not used to overcome anxiety, panic or trauma. You can compare them to taking a painkiller, while you should actually work on the cause itself.

Nevertheless, grounding techniques are a great way to ease your anxiety and come back to the present moment.

Anxiety happens when you are vividly visualizing things that you are scared or afraid of. Your body perceives the vision as a danger and activates the adrenal gland… which results in an adrenaline rush. It’s the tingling, the high, the dizziness and sweating that you feel when anxiety hits.

Grounding techniques help you come back to the present moment and help you to show your mind that you are safe. Because you are in the present moment during the grounding technique, your mind cannot wander about everything it fears… which eases your stress and anxiety.

There are many grounding techniques for when you are anxious or deal with panic, but the following grounding technique helped me best with easing my anxiety and stress.

The #1 best grounding technique if you are anxious

The most common grounding technique to ease your anxiety is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This technique brings you back to the present moment by focusing all your attention on your environment, instead of the scary thoughts. 

Because you now know that anxiety is caused by your fear about the future (it’s impossible to be anxious about the past), bringing your mind back to the present is a great way to ease your anxiety.

This grounding technique makes use of all your senses and helps you focus on the following in your environment:

  1. Five things you can see
  2. Four things you can feel
  3. Three things you can hear
  4. Two things you can smell
  5. One thing you can taste in your immediate environment

This grounding technique can help you get through a panic attack and anxiety and can help you ease your symptoms. A helpful video about this grounding technique you can find on this site from the University of Rochester.

deep breathing

How to use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique?

Before you begin, focus all your attention on your breathing. It seems counter-intuitive to focus on your breathing in the midst of your panic attack or anxiety… but it is a great way to bring back the calmness in your body and mind. 

Simply changing your body causes a lot of changes in your mind, as the body and mind are connected. When you are in danger you breathe very shallow and fast, but when you exhale all the way to your belly… you show your mind that you are not in danger, because that is not how you breathe when you are in danger.

To help you with the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, use the following steps.

Before you start: focus on your breathing

For 30 seconds to 1 minute, focus on your breathing. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest and push your belly towards your hand during your inhale.

Inhale for the count of 4, hold to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 8. 

The technique

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you can see
Look around and name four things you can see. This can be a pen, a desk, a person or something else in your environment.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things that you can touch
What can you touch around you? Something on your body? Or something in the room, like your fridge, the floor or an apple?

3: Acknowledge THREE things that you can hear
What can you hear in your surroundings? Is it a car driving by? Someone talking? 

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell
What can you smell in your surroundings? Is it some soap? The food in the fridge? The pillows on your bed? Or the weird smell in the office?

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste
How does the inside of your mouth taste like? Or is there something you can currently taste?

When to practice grounding techniques

Do you wonder when you should use the anxiety grounding techniques? The best time to use the grounding technique is during the moment that you are starting to get anxious, instead of during a panic attack.

Try to become aware of when you are starting to worry, overthink or feel stressed and try to use the grounding technique to bring you back to the present moment. This makes it a lot easier to not land into a full-blown panic attack.

But if you are already experiencing a panic attack, you can use it as well. Don’t be too hard on yourself and let your feelings come up during panic. Don’t fight your feelings and let all the built-up energy come out. And when the panic attack has passed, you can use the grounding technique to come back to the present moment and ground yourself again.

How to overcome anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety for long periods of time (I struggled with it for years) you might believe that you are just someone with anxiety and that it became a part of you. You might be the person who only searches for new ways to ease anxiety, instead of overcoming it. 

I am here to tell you that the best thing you can do for your life, your future and yourself is to work on the cause of your anxiety. Anxiety is learned behavior, which means you can unlearn it.

Educating yourself on the topic and learning new ways of coping and perceiving anxiety will help you overcome it. And that is the moment you need fewer grounding techniques as well.

To help you overcome your anxiety, I made a FREE training where I teach you the top 3 mistakes anxious people make and what to do instead.

Takeaway

The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is a great tool to help you ease your anxiety and panic. In a very short moment, it helps you go back to the present moment to calm you down. With the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, I often eased my anxiety in a matter of minutes. But of course, educating yourself on anxiety and learning how to get to the root of it is the #1 way to ease your symptoms and to finally overcome it. 

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Author: Wouter Manders

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on overcoming their anxiety, out of first hand experience. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their road to having less anxiety.

About Wouter

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on freeing themselves from anxiety. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their journey towards less anxiety.

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