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What is the ‘54321’ technique to cope with anxiety?

"When we're anxious and removed from the present moment, our sympathetic nervous system is activated because our brain communicates to our body that there is a threat in the vicinity," said Drisha Dey, consultant psychologist

reduce anxietyHere's how you can try and let go anxiety (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

You may have tried the 3-3-3 trick to manage anxiety, or even the box breathing technique to help yourself stay calm in stressful situations, but have you heard (or tried) the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique that is known to help cope with anxiety effectively? The technique, which targets the five predominant senses, is said to be immensely helpful just like the yogic breathing technique of Pranayama.

What is the five senses grounding technique?

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 anxiety trick, is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks, experts mention.

According to yoga coach Taarika Dave, “Whenever we fear or worry, our focus is usually on the past or the future. This technique is a simple grounding exercise that can help calm a racing mind by bringing you back to the present and helping you to realise you are safe and in control. It is a great technique to engage all your five senses, to anchor you to the present moment because life is happening now,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

Why do we feel anxious?

Drisha Dey, consultant psychologist, Kolkata explained that anxiety is not a bad thing to experience. “It is your brain’s greatest tool to protect you, and it works wonders as long as it’s monitored,” said Dey, adding that when we’re anxious and removed from the present moment, our sympathetic nervous system is activated because our brain communicates to our body that there is a threat in the vicinity.

“It is basically an emergency alarm. Now, imagine an emergency alarm blaring most of the day; no one would be able to get anything else done. So, we need to adjust the efficiency of the alarm such that it intimates us when necessary, and allows us to return to homeostasis when not. If you live everyday on an emergency system, it stops being an emergency or even an effective system,” Dey told indianexpress.com.

Taking care of your mind is as important as taking care of your body. (Photo: Freepik)

So, what to do?

Whenever you feel anxious, first start by paying attention to your breath. “When we take slow and deep breaths, it brings our mind to a more calmer state,” Dave wrote.

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Actor and mindfulness speaker Raageshwari Loomba also spoke about this particular technique that can be done “anywhere, anytime”.

How to follow the technique?

Once you feel more calm, follow these steps:

See 5 things around you. It can be anything, from a leaf or a painting.

Touch 4 things. It can be anything like a wall, your clothes, or a chair.

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Hear 3 things. Focus on any three sounds that you can hear around you. Chirps of a bird or even your breath

Smell two things. Like a cup of chai, or your perfume.

Taste one thing.

“The 54321 technique is a tried and tested one that forces your brain to return to the present and allows the body to come back from a hyper-aroused state to a balanced one. The more aware we are of our present, the better informed we can actually be of potential threats,” Dey explained.

“This is not to say that the technique will magically take away your worries. While your worries and stressors will still be there, it will put you in a state and space to handle it better…grounding is everything, try it,” said Dave.

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First published on: 29-11-2022 at 17:00 IST
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