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The 5–4–3–2–1 Coping Technique For Anxiety

Feeling anxious? Try grounding yourself with this easy and innovative practice.

After a trauma, it’s normal to experience flashbacks, anxiety, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Grounding techniques help control these symptoms by turning attention away from thoughts, memories, or worries, and refocusing on the present moment.


Anxiety can be debilitating. It's surprisingly common for people to become overwhelmed, have trouble breathing, and lose their grounding. We hear the phrase “find your ground” quite a lot. But what does this statement mean, and how can people re-gound themselves once again? The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique addresses this challenge.


First, let’s explore the definition. Grounding yourself is the process of balancing your physical, emotional, mental, and energy state and reconnecting them.

Grounding techniques help control these symptoms by turning attention away from thoughts, memories, or worries, and refocusing on the present moment. In this article, you will learn four powerful grounding techniques for managing the symptoms of trauma.

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Technique


The purpose of the exercise is to slow down, be still for a moment where ever you are. Take in the details of your surroundings using each of your senses. Strive to notice small details that your mind would usually tune out, such as distant sounds or the texture of an ordinary object.

  • 5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you.

  • 4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you.

  • 3: Acknowledge THREE things you can hear.

  • 2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.

  • 1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. Taste is sometimes hard to identify; you can substitute this by thinking of your favourite thing to taste.

Here is a memorable chart if you’re seeking an easy graphic to print, tape, and remind yourself of the practice.


Once you practice each of the five senses, notice whether you feel integrated and a part of your environment? Did you notice something you haven’t before? What was the experience like for you?


The next time you feel anxious, like you’re walking on uneven ground, remember the

5-4-3-2-1 exercise and refocus your attention to the ‘here and now, becoming present in your environment.

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