Known as the Grounding or 5-4-3-2-1 technique below is a simple method that grounds our senses in the present by asking us to be aware of our surroundings and filling our brains with a helpful and distracting amount of sensory information.
The Grounding or 5-4-3-2-1 technique
1. Visual – Take a look around.
Look for 5 things around you right now. It could be the clock on the wall. The TV or your watch. Anything really. Take some time to really take the things you’ve found in. What’s in that cup? What colour is it? Don’t worry if you’re mind starts to wander just allow it to drift back and look at the next ‘thing’.
2. Kinaesthetic – Feel some stuff.
Feel around you for 4 things. A cushion. A pencil that been nicely chewed. Your cat. You can allow yourself to be fully immersed in the textures and how they make you feel.
3. Auditory – Pardon?
Now we’re looking for 3 sounds. It could be traffic passing. That clock ticking or birds outside. It could even be your stomach rumbling. If you’re still and calm do any new sounds, that you maybe haven’t noticed before, come to mind?
4. Olfactory – That was the cat…
Next we’re looking for 2 smells. This can be a bit tricky but that’s kind of the point. Really search them out. Maybe even go for a walk around the room. That washing smell on your clothes? Shampoo? Coffee – One of my favourites. If you’re really struggling think about some smells that you’d like to be in the room. Dark Chocolate, Freshly cut grass – This one takes me right back to grass fights when I was 11 or 12. Just me?
5. Gustatory – Always Tea or Toothpaste.
Lastly, we want 1 taste. A cup of tea? Toothpaste? Again if you’re struggling imagine your favourite taste. Maybe pizza or vanilla. Maybe one of those flavours that gets the mouth watering like a really juicy and sour lemon or those tangy salt and vinegar crisps. I’m pretty unimaginative at this point but generally feeling much better – You could even say I’ve been bored myself out of panic. One things for certain my brain isn’t looking for threats any more.
If you’re still struggling you can run through the 5 stages again and pick new things. I’ve always found it helpful to remind myself that it’s impossible that this feeling – this panic – can last forever. There will be a point when it has to stop. This generally gives me that little bit of control I need to take a nap, to take a time out or to talk to someone that can help.
I’ve tried to inject a little humour in here (tried…) to help you remember these 5 stages whilst you’re out and about. That shouldn’t take away from how much this technique can help. As someone who has used it I can’t promise that you’ll be anxiety free but it really can give you back control in those flashpoint moments and even at those times where you’d like a little distraction i.e. before a speech or test.
N.B If you’re worried about your health your first stop should always be your Doctor.
Ben Gaskell is a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist working with clients who suffer from anxiety, stress, low mood and phobias. Based at The Remedy Lounge, Central Manchester and the Stretford area of Greater Manchester he serves the local and surrounding areas of Urmston, Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton, Hale, Altrincham and Trafford.
Further details can be found on ‘getting here’ or my ‘contact’ page. For more information on how Ben at Greater Manchester Hypnotherapy can help you please call 07756 932 702 or email [email protected].