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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / April 2018 / 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety

5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety

By: Sara Smith, BSW

Anxiety is something most of us have experienced at least once in our life. Public speaking, performance reviews, and new job responsibilities are just some of the work-related situations that can cause even the calmest person to feel a little stressed. This five-step exercise can be very helpful during periods of anxiety or panic by helping to ground you in the present when your mind is bouncing around between various anxious thoughts.

Before starting this exercise, pay attention to your breathing. Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself: 

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your hair, a pillow, or the ground under your feet. 

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This could be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts! Focus on things you can hear outside of your body.

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Maybe you are in your office and smell pencil, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell a pillow. If you need to take a brief walk to find a scent you could smell soap in your bathroom, or nature outside.

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like—gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch?

This technique is one of many options you could use if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. If anxiety is something that you struggle with regularly, and you continue to have trouble refocusing or coping with these feelings, please talk to your doctor or contact Behavioral Health Partners at (585) 276-6900. Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Keith Stein | 4/10/2018

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