Quick 5-Senses Strategy for Anxious Moments

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Quick 5-Senses Strategy for Anxious Moments

Sometimes, big feelings, negative emotions, and worries threaten to take us over. When this happens, we can use our bodies (our 5 senses) to reconnect and “ground” us. 

Grounding means purposely shifting my focus from what I am thinking and feeling to what I am experiencing physically right now – either in my body or in my immediate surroundings. I can name objects around me to help my brain recognize where I am and that I am safe. 

This method is easy to memorize and can help someone (or you!) get back to the present and regain personal control over distressing thoughts. Young children can be guided through the process with a safe adult.


Starting with 5 and counting down to 1:

5 – describe 5 things you can SEE (the color of a picture frame, the shape of a chair)

4 – recognize 4 things you can FEEL by touch (the seat of your chair, the texture of your shirt, the temperature of the room)

3 – listen for 3 things you can HEAR (the sound of a clock ticking, street noise outside, your own heartbeat)

2 – name 2 things you can SMELL (take a big breath in and focus on any scents you can name)

1 – name 1 thing you can TASTE


Repeat the count as many times as needed until you feel a return to normal breathing, thoughts, and control.



Practice going through these 5-4-3-2-1 steps during calm, non-crisis times as a habit. Then, using the strategy in other moments will be much easier!


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