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The 5 Things Anxiety Trick + How to Use it to Stop Anxiety

brain health mindset Apr 24, 2023
Woman sitting with hand on chest breathing, using the 5 things anxiety trick to calm down.

When anxiety creeps in and takes control of your thoughts, your heart rate starts pounding and you feel helpless, it can be hard to know what to do. But don't despair - the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique can calm anxiety in less than 5 minutes.

This simple exercise can help you to break the cycle of anxious thoughts and regain control. In this article, we will explore what the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is and how to use it to counter anxiety. Let's dive in.

What is the 5 Things Anxiety Trick? 

The 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is a grounding technique designed to help you refocus your attention on the immediate present so you can ease worrying and calm your fears. This simple yet effective method encourages you to use your senses to name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

The 5-4-3-2-1- Anxiety Trick and How to Use It

Take a moment to do a simple deep breathing exercise. Just a few deep breaths can help to bring your body back into the present moment. Then shift your attention to your environment and start the technique.

Step 1: Find 5 Things You Can See  

This first step encourages you to look around and observe your environment. This can be done anywhere, from your home to a busy city street. Start by looking at the items in your immediate vicinity and naming five of them. For example, if you are inside, you might notice a lamp, a chair, a picture frame, a window, and a book. 

Step 2: Identify 4 Things You Can Touch  

The second step of the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is to notice four things you can touch. This can be anything from a blanket to the fabric of your clothing. It can be helpful to name the items out loud, notice their textures, write them down, or feel them against your skin. For example, you might touch a fuzzy blanket, feel the warmth of tea in a mug, and or brace yourself against a hard countertop. 

Step 3: Tune into 3 Things You Can Hear 

The third step of the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is to notice three things that you can hear. This can be anything from the dull hum of a fan to the sound of birds chirping outside. It can also be helpful to close your eyes and listen. For example, you might hear a car driving past, a clock ticking, and a dog barking. 

Step 4: Notice 2 Things You Can Smell

The fourth step of the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is to notice two things that you can smell. This can be anything from the scent of freshly cut grass to a hot cup of tea. Take a few moments to focus on the smells around you and name them out loud or write them down. For example, you might smell a cup of coffee brewing and the scent of laundry detergent.  

Step 5: Identify 1 Thing You Can Taste

The fifth and final step of the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick is to notice one thing that you can taste. This can be anything from a cup of tea to a stick of gum. Take a few moments to focus on what you taste inside of your mouth and name it out loud or write it down. For example, you might take a sip of orange juice or eat a sour candy.

You may find that by step by 3, you're already breathing easier. You won't always need to complete all 5 steps to feel calmer, but it's good to know what they are. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you feel more in control. Don't rush it; take your time and with practice, you'll get better at it.



Why This Simple Exercise Works

The 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick works by shifting your attention away from your anxious feelings and bringing you back to the environment that immediately surrounds you. This technique is grounding and helps you gain a greater sense of clarity and control in the face of panic. 

Additionally, when paired with routine relaxation breathing techniques and a daily mindfulness meditation practice, it can make a huge difference in your overall anxiety levels. 

When To Use It

The 5 Things anxiety trick is useful when you're feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated, or unfocused. No supplies are required, making it quick and easy to apply in any stressful situation or environment. Here are some examples of scenarios to use this method:

  • When feeling overwhelmed in a public place or at a large social gathering.
  • When experiencing a panic attack before an interview or exam.
  • When social anxiety creeps in or you're anxious amid a large group of people.
  • When struggling with racing thoughts.
  • When feeling overwhelmed by parenting responsibilities.
  • When feeling unfocused or scatterbrained. 
  • When feeling overwhelmed by work or school responsibilities.

Additional Benefits of Using the 5-4-3-2-1 Method

Prescriptions for medications to treat anxiety are increasing, while support for everyday mental health needs is still lacking. The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a natural way to help manage an anxiety attack. It can ground you, re-energize you and help you regain a sense of control without any negative side effects.

And best of all, it's easy to remember and always available. 


When to Seek Additional Support

Despite regularly practicing the 5-4-3-2-1 anxiety trick, you may still find yourself in need of professional help. If left untreated, anxiety problems and/or panic disorder can become increasingly debilitating and interfere with daily functioning. If you regularly experience anxiety symptoms, chest pain, high blood pressure, or negative thoughts, it's time to get additional help. Thankfully, there are plenty of anxiety treatments and therapy options, as well as medication for anxiety, to help you manage your symptoms.

Talk to your therapist or your healthcare provider to find the best options for you. 


Why This Matters to a Memory Health Coach

When it comes to memory problems and anxiety, it can be confusing to know which one came first. It's like a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. 

But the truth is, when you're anxious, your brain can't really focus or remember new information. So, if we want to help you improve your focus and memory, and to be able to think and express yourself more clearly and easily, we need to help with your anxiety too.

In Summary 

The 5 Things anxiety trick is a simple mindfulness trick and it's a great way to refocus your attention on the present moment. 

Use it next time feelings of anxiety flood in by naming five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This simple exercise can help you to break the cycle of anxious thoughts, refocus your attention, become mindful of the present moment, and release tension in your body. 

If you are struggling with anxiety, it can be helpful to take some time to practice the 5-4-3-2-1 method. However, if your anxiety persists, it is important to seek professional help. There are plenty of anxiety treatments and therapy options, as well as medication for anxiety, to help you manage your symptoms. Don’t be afraid to take action to support your mental health.

*Remember to save this article to your favorites so you can come back to it easily!

*The information presented in this article is not medical advice. 

Questions? Contact Francine Here

Meet the Coach

Hey there! I'm Francine, a speech-language pathologist turned memory health coach with a passion for helping you overcome your memory problems.

In my practice, I help women just like you trade memory problems for confidence and clarity everyday so you can think clearly and remember easily, without constant self-doubt weighing you down. 

If you're struggling with poor recall and foggy thinking, you're in the right place and I want to help you!


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