The 54321 Technique (grounding exercise for panic attacks)

Panic attacks can feel scary and overwhelming, and we can often feel as though they are out of our control. However, grounding exercises are a simple yet useful technique to use to bring you back to the present and help you to realise you are safe and in control. Grounding techniques come in many different forms however this article will specifically discuss the 54321 Technique.

  • 1.The first step is to look around the room and name five things that you can see around you. For instance, a painting on the wall or a car. Think about how that thing looks to you or what is it that you like or don't like about it.
  • 2.The second step is to focus on four things that you can feel. Suppose that you notice how the wind is blowing through your hair or how the sun feels on your skin. It can be helpful to say these things out loud, such as 'I can feel the couch that I am sitting on"
  • 3.The third step is to name three things that you can hear around you. For example, you may become aware of the traffic in the background or some birds chirping in a nearby tree.
  • 4.The fourth step is to notice two things that you can smell around you right now. To illustrate, you may notice the smell of grass or perhaps the smell of perfume wafting around. If you can't smell anything around you, then it can be helpful to name two or three smells that you like such as fresh baked bread or a flower.
  • 5.The fifth step is to focus on one thing that you can taste. If you can't taste anything, then instead you can choose to name a taste that you like. 

(Image from Unsplash by Jacob Townsend) 

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