Using Your 5 Senses When Anxiety Strikes

Written by: Andrea Ryan, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Right now, many of us are being challenged by an array of negative emotions washing over us without rhyme or reason. Turn on your TV, read a newspaper, walk past someone on the street or listen to the radio. You cannot, it seems, escape the news that is Covid.


Anxiety, distress and depression are unfortunately fast becoming a normal state of being for many of us. So how do you manage these states and distract yourself from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment?


Acknowledge your situation


The first thing is to recognize and acknowledge your situation. Let’s use anxiety as an example.


As someone who may experience anxiety, you may become annoyed when anxiety strikes. “I don’t have time to have an anxiety attack right now,” “of COURSE this has to happen now,” “I’m meant to be meeting someone today, but I’m not sure I want to risk it” or “I am so sick of these anxious moments, I wish they would just go away,”When is all this going to end!


When anxiety pays us a visit, it brings with it a sense of doom. Our hearts race, our minds get busy concocting all different awful scenarios, our breathing becomes shallow and we can sometimes feel light-headed. Suffering anxiety is not fun.


Whatever the trigger may be, we suddenly find ourselves cocooned in a storm of feelings that nobody else can see. Whether you’re at work at your desk, or frozen at the kitchen sink, or standing at a set of lights – your stillness contradicts everything that is going on within your mind at that moment.

Take a deep breath and acknowledge where you are in that moment. Then use this grounding technique to help create space from distressing feelings you are experiencing.


Let Your 5 Senses Ground You


This particular technique involves using your five senses and is often referred to as the ‘5-4-3-2-1 coping technique’.

This technique is designed specifically to be easy to implement and effective in drawing your attention to this moment. It helps to calm your breath, settle your thoughts and bring your mindfulness to the present.

Working backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you.


To get started, take in a big breath from your belly:


5. See – Look around you and find five things you can see.

4. Feel – Notice four things that you can feel eg your feet in your shoes, the itch in your arm, the clothes against your skin.

3. Hear – Take note of three things you can hear: traffic outside, the wind in the trees or your neighbors’ dog.

2. Smell – Breathe in and list two things you can smell.

1. Taste – List one thing you can taste.


You may want to say these out loud as you go or just confirm them silently to yourself.


Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the color of the flecks in the carpet, the hum of your computer or the color of the leaves on the trees.


For more information, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!

Andrea Ryan, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

I'm a transformational life and business coach for women. I support women to enable their journey of self-discovery and drive change through their personal journeys. Professionally I help female entrepreneurs align their mental and emotional journey with business guidance and mentorship. I have had a 15 year executive career, heading up business and marketing strategy, brand management and leadership in the disability employment sector, sport and as an award winning business development director in a mental health Not for Profit. Spending 3 years on the Australian National Committee for UN Women as a Committee Member and as a consultant to Human Right start-ups, I am constantly seeking board and volunteer roles that offer me the opportunity to utilize my skills to give back and contribute to the wider community. Quoted in Marketing Magazine Australia as the 'Accidental Marketer', I have a flair for the creative, which fuels my passion for supporting women to step into their power, thrive in their careers and become leaders who will instigate change to make this world a better place.


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