Stress and anxiety are often the biggest obstacles when it comes to important moments in our lives. While situations such as receiving a promotion at work, taking final exams, going on a flight, and performing in a sports competition can be exciting and positive experiences, without proper stress management, the fear of failure and need for success can have a negative impact on not only the results, but our long-term health.
That’s where the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique comes in, as it is designed to ease your state of mind so that you can get through stressful moments. The goal with this exercise is to use the five senses to focus on the moment and avoid multiple anxious thoughts that can get in the way of your progress.
Deep, slow, and long breaths are your first priority for achieving a calm state before proceeding to the following steps:
- SEE: Acknowledge five things that you can see around you. Options can range from a pen or stapler at your office to a bird or tree while you’re out at the local park. If you’re at home, you can look at a family photo on the wall or a glass of water on the kitchen counter. You can pick between big and small items to keep your options open.
- TOUCH: Acknowledge four things that you can touch around you. You can start with your hair, hands, elbows, and other parts of your body if you’re short on time. The ground beneath your feet, whether it’s the floor of your bedroom or the office at work, also helps. Pillows, desks, phones, and keyboards can fit this step.
- HEAR: Acknowledge three things you can hear around you. Instead of listening to your own thoughts or sounds from your body like your stomach growling, focus on external noises. Examples include someone driving a car nearby, a clock ticking, or a dog barking. If you’re at work, you can listen to typing and the steps of people walking by your desk.
- SMELL: Acknowledge two things around you that you can smell. This step may be a challenge compared to the others, so it’s best to go to a place with more sources of scent if you don’t smell anything wherever you are at the moment. The outdoors has plenty of options for smells, and the soap in bathrooms also helps. Your furniture can provide pleasant smells for this step when you’re home.
- TASTE: Acknowledge one thing around you that you can taste. It doesn’t necessarily have to be food, as toothpaste and minty floss you use in the morning or at night are easy sources. You can also go with the cinnamon-raisin oatmeal you have for breakfast, the sandwich and chips you have for lunch, or the pasta primavera you have for dinner. Coffee, tea, and other drinks you have to get through the day also work.
End this exercise with a long, deep breath.
With these steps, you will be able to get the most out of the moment. Focusing on your senses will help you be more mindful, which will then help you accomplish your tasks and experience success. As a result, you can defeat your anxiety and feel in control of your life. Put this technique into practice to so that you can improve your health and make those big days fun!