This ‘5-4-3-2-1’ mindfulness trick is super effective at beating anxiety

When anxiety starts to take over, it can feel impossible to gain perspective and get out of the spiral of worries. But next time you feel overwhelmed with anxious thoughts, a simple mindfulness trick may offer some relief. Shared by Boston University clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, author of new book How to Be Yourself: Quiet the Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, this hack can help you stay in the moment when anxiety arises.

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Chatting to Vice, Hendriksen explained that the ‘5-4-3-2-1’ mindfulness trick can help “pull us out of anxious worry or rumination” and “grounds us in the present”.

She said: “Essentially, you tick your way through your five senses and name 5 things you can see at this very moment, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel (like your feet in your shoes, your bum on a chair), 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste, even if it’s just the inside of your mouth or a sip of cold water.”

“This can be done quickly and inconspicuously.”

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Explaining why it works, she added: “Bringing our attention to our senses grounds us in the present and counting the items interrupts the spinning of our thoughts. From there, you can gather your wits and use some of the other tools, like turning your attention inside out or dropping your safety behaviours.”

Well worth giving a try next time you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.


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