moment great tit 5-4-3-2-1 exercise

5-4-3-2-1 Anchoring Exercise

(after Yvonne Dolan, USA)

When our thoughts revolve around fearful objects, the outcome  is seldom a viable solution, but rather a kind of lukewarm trance, while fear, like in a spiral, increases a little with each run. In such moments stepping out of the endless loop of feelings and thoughts saves energy. Because the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise is so easy, it succeeds even in the tightest of crowds. The focus on what we perceive ‘here and now’ also helps, when we have difficulties falling asleep.

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise: Purpose

  • Exiting revolving thoughts and rising fear
  • Anchoring ourselves in the present
  • Calming down
  • Falling asleep

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise: Requirements

almost none:

  • 15 minutes time
  • During which not to talk
  • Otherwise feasible when lying, sitting, walking, on the street, anywhere

5 4 3 2 1 247x300 - 54321 Exercise

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise: Procedure

  • Look in one direction and, let the view rest on a point, that is slightly above your eye level.
  • Consciously follow your breath for a few breaths. While doing so, let your breath flow without controlling it – whether fast, calm, deep, superficial – doesn’t matter.
  • Name (in your head) 5 things in your field of vision without fixing them with your gaze or “focussing”. Your field of vision is wide enough, even without eye movement. Therefore, just look relaxedly ahead. Take your time: e.g. I see a picture … a table … a tram …
  • In the same way, name 5 noises you are hearing: e.g. I can hear my breath … the blood rushing in my ears … a car driving by … birds chirping.
  • Now list 5 body sensations (not emotions!), that you are currently feeling: e.g. I feel the mattress beneath … my belt … the bag over my shoulder … the pavement under the soles of my shoes
  • In the next round, do the same with four perceptions, that you see, hear, and feel, then three times, then twice, and finally, one perception.
  • If you want, you can start all over again, as often as you like.

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise: Important

  • Miscounting is no problem.
  • It doesn’t matter if you mix up the order.
  • If anything bothers you, just name it as a perception.
  • Counting the same perception more than once is fine, if there are only a few objects of perception, or if a perception is very dominant.
  • Even a reversed order, that is 1-2-3-4-5, is possible.


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