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5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique

Posted by Arona Martin on
5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique

A note from Arona, founder of itsbecauselove: 

As these two years collide, I have been having some (read: A LOT OF) anxiety around all I did wrong in my business last year, and even more about all that could go wrong in 2019. Running a business is hard, and if you get lost in the past or future, you miss what you can do right now in the present to help it grow. So, I have been spending some time reading about relaxation techniques that can help keep me in the present and out of the mistakes of my past. There is a TON of information out there, but this one article stuck out to me. At first when I read it, I felt silly following the steps, but then after a few minutes IT WORKED. I wish I would have known this when Jessica was alive. She often had anxiety about her cancer, and I am sure this would have helped. Do you have someone in your life battling cancer that could use a little stress relief?  Using these 5 steps may help! #itsbecauselove

Big Hug Lap Blanket tags

Here's a cute idea: Write out the five steps for a friend and gift them this Big Hug Lap Blanket with customizable attachment tags (see above). You could decorate a tag for each step! This is a great way to wrap your friend in love and help them remember the coping technique for themselves. 

5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique

By: Jordan Killebrew

5...4...3...2...1 I want relief!

There are 5 steps to take to help create progress towards finding symptom reduction and/or relief. Taking these 5 steps might not be overnight magic but can significantly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, trauma triggers, and other unwanted emotions or thoughts. With any type of trigger, emotion, or thought that needs coping skills, it is important to always remember the breath! Like in yoga, slow, deep, long breathing can help maintain a sense of calm or help return to a calmer state. Start with deep breathing as the introduction to any coping skill. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Continue this pattern until you find your thoughts slowing down or until necessary. I suggest at least 5 rounds of these sets but more is of course allowed and encouraged. After you are able to find your breath, go through the numbers in order to help ground yourself in present thinking through external factors:

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. Maybe it is a bird, maybe it is pencil, maybe it is a spot on the ceiling, however big or small, state 5 things you see.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. Maybe this is your hair, hands, ground, grass, pillow, etc, whatever it may be, list out the 4 things you can feel.

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This needs to be external, do not focus on your thoughts; maybe you can hear a clock, a car, a dog park. or maybe you hear your tummy rumbling, internal noises that make external sounds can count, what is audible in the moment is what you list.

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell: This one might be hard if you are not in a stimulating environment, if you cannot automatically sniff something out, walk nearby to find a scent. Maybe you walk to your bathroom to smell soap or outside to smell anything in nature, or even could be as simple as leaning over and smelling a pillow on the couch, or a pencil. Whatever it may be, take in the smells around you.

1. Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like, gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch? Focus on your mouth as the last step and take in what you can taste.

These five steps are a way to ground yourself in the NOW! Take you out of your head and help stop you flooded thoughts. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy it is believed that your thoughts are directly linked to how you feel and although we feel like we lose control of our thought processes, we have tools that can help us gain back a sense of control and lead to healthier thought patterns. In moments of anxiety or triggered trauma it is important to stay present focused to help find symptom relief. Hopefully this coping technique can help you or someone you know stay present, stay grounded, and stay healthy.


Adapted from:



Big Hug Lap Blanket with tagsLove Heals Journal

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