5-4-3-2-1: A Grounding Practice

Mindfulness is an essential practice for working through trauma, anxiety, and other intense emotions. There are many practices under this umbrella, but today, we’re going to focus on one practice in particular, 5-4-3-2-1.

To break it down, this grounding practice includes all 5 senses. Through engaging our senses, it allows our emotions to be grounded and for our body and mind to both find peace & calm in the midst of distress.

  1. 5 Things You Can See. Really look at these items. What emotion do they evoke. This could be a picture, a vision board, words from your favorite book, or anything that can bring your attention to that.
  2. 4 Things You Can Feel. Collect four items around you. A soft pillow or blanket, favorite lotion, slime, rice. There are many items around. Really feel these objects, and notice what it’s like against your skin.
  3. 3 Things You Can Hear. Close your eyes and listen to the world around you. What do you notice? Is there the hum of the air conditioner or heater? Perhaps cars are in the background, or the sink is running. More actively, you can listen to a song that evokes joy or peace.
  4. 2 Things You Can Smell. Similarly to hearing, close your eyes and notice the smells around you. Light your favorite candle, smell some fresh-laundered clothing, a dryer sheet, or essential oil diffuser. Remember to use smell to be present and grounded in the here and now.
  5. 1 Thing You Can Taste. Now taste can be a bit difficult depending on the situation. This could be a sip of water or your favorite (decaf) beverage, a yummy snack or meal, a piece of candy, whatever works for you in that moment.

This grounding technique can help us move through intense emotional experiences, but we do have control in how we react to these emotions. Now, it won’t take away what we feel or the stressful situation, but it can help us feel empowered to control our emotion rather than the emotions controlling us.

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