Mindfulness Technique: 5 4 3 2 1 Technique

How to focus mindfulness technique

The “5-4-3-2-1” technique is often used as a grounding exercise and is rooted in principles of mindfulness and sensory awareness.

This mindfulness technique uses the 5 senses as you count down observing what is around you:

  • Notice 5 things you can see.
  • Notice 4 things you can hear.
  • Notice 3 things you can feel on your skin.
  • Notice 2 things you can smell or taste.
  • Notice how you feel inside.

Its effectiveness lies in the fact that it engages multiple senses and redirects your attention to the present moment. Here’s a breakdown of why each step works:

  1. Engagement of Senses: By systematically going through each of the senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—you are redirecting your focus away from racing thoughts, worries, or stressors. Engaging your senses helps anchor you in the present reality.
  2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. The “5-4-3-2-1” technique guides you to observe and acknowledge your surroundings and sensations without evaluating them. This helps break the cycle of anxious or intrusive thoughts.
  3. Distraction and Relaxation: The exercise serves as a distraction from overwhelming or distressing thoughts. It’s a brief break that can create a pause between a stressor and your reaction to it. This pause allows for a moment of calm and can help you respond more effectively to challenges.
  4. Connection to the Environment: Grounding exercises like this one connect you to your immediate environment. It’s a way of bringing your attention back to the external world and away from internal thoughts that may be causing distress.
  5. Self-Awareness: The last step, “Notice how you feel inside,” encourages self-awareness. It prompts you to recognize and acknowledge your emotions without judgment. This self-awareness is a key component of emotional regulation and can help you better understand and manage your reactions to different situations.

I know that when you are feeling anxious, it can be hard to remember to do this. So I’ve made a free downloadable infographic that you print out and keep handy. You can cut the page into sections, so you can tuck them away where you’re likely to find them when you need them.

For example:

  • Keep it in your music folder to help you calm down before a music performance.
  • Keep it with your notes to help you stay calm before doing a presentation.
  • Keep it in the car as a reminder before you go to a job interview.

Using Art

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use drawing as part of your daily self-care and creative outlet, take a look at these posts.

Summing It Up

In summary, the “5-4-3-2-1” technique works by engaging multiple senses, promoting mindfulness, offering a distraction from distressing thoughts, connecting you to your environment, and fostering self-awareness. These elements contribute to a sense of calm and presence in the moment, which can be particularly helpful in managing stress and anxiety.


Where will you keep your bookmarks, and how will you use them to help you calm down? Tell us in the comments!


How to focus mindfulness technique

Similar Posts