Racing thoughts, ruminating, and general overthinking can have a serious negative impact on one’s mind and body. Working with clients, specifically clients with anxiety, we typically start from scratch and learn or review basic skills that they can utilize to self soothe.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love deep breathing and other mindfulness techniques, but deep breathing is only going to go so far if on the verge of a full blown panic attack or having difficulty regaining control over negative thoughts.
My favorite grounding technique is one I call the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise, also known as the Five Senses exercise. This is an exercise during which one will identify the following:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can physically feel (such as clothing on your body, etc.)
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
I love this exercise, because it is easy to adjust to fit your needs. If a longer time for grounding is needed, one can increase the numbers or find as many things as possible. It can be quick and easy or it can be longer and more detailed. The purpose of this is to refocus on things outside of oneself, rather than what is going on in the mind. It’s meant to bring one to present awareness in times where one may be stuck inside the mind. And it can be done anywhere! In a park, at home, walking in the community, at work, in a car (as long as it’s safe!!).
This is one of the exercises that I teach clients most frequently and the one that I most frequently utilize myself. I always tell clients that I won’t tell them to utilize a skill or exercise that I haven’t tried myself. This is one that was so effective for me that I needed to share it with as many people as possible! I always love to hear experience utilizing this skill, so if someone out there tries it, let me know how it went for you! What works for some may not work for others, but this one hasn’t let me down yet.
I hope everyone is having a great start to the week. As we gear up to the work grind, don’t forget to stay mindful. Happy Monday!