Grounding Anxiety: 5-4-3-2-1

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. William Shakespeare, “Measure for Measure”

Billions are suffering from anxiety right now. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but this damn pandemic has put the world on edge. Under the amazingly understated title – Pandemics Can Be Stressful – the CDC says, How you respond to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic can depend on your background, your social support from family or friends, your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors. The changes that can happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways we try to contain the spread of the virus can affect anyone.

I have suffered from anxiety since I was a little kid. But back then there was no information available to understand what exactly it was I was feelings – boys weren’t supposed to express deep feelings. Looking back now I would say the hollowness inside probably started around the time my grandfather died, when I was in second grade. He had been at the center of my life since I was a baby. Buddy wasour nickname for each other, everyone refers to my Grandpa as Buddy to this day. He went into the hospital for “tests” they told me, and never came home. No one told me actually how he had died until decades later. He died in a fist fight with the guy in the bed next to him because that guy had been doing something very nasty. Buddy fell and hit his head and was put on life support. I was only told at the time that he died in the hospital. Imagine my fear when I had to go to the hospital for a medical procedure in fourth grade. I woke up under the aesthetic and was held down by two nurses, while they stitched me up – extra stitches for struggling. So even the mention of sickness, injury and hospitals used to trigger great anxiety. And I have had trust issues for most of my adult life.

Although not life threatening, anxiety attacks are awful. According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms include:

Feeling nervous, restless or tense.

Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.

Having an increased heart rate.

Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)



Feeling weak or tired.

Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

To help deal with your anxiety you need to learn how to cope with stress. Grounding is when you shift your focus to what is actually happening to you physically and free your mind from the trap of anxiety-causing thoughts. Grounding yourself is a proven technique to lessen anxiety and increase well-being. The 5-4-3-2-1 Method is one of the most common methods for grounding yourself during an anxiety attack. 5-4-3-2-1 method has worked for me and millions of others. Sit down, take a few calming breaths. Now focus on your senses. List five things you can see; four things you can feel; three things you can hear; two things you can smell; one thing you can taste.

Sit down in a comfortable chair. Press gently against the back of the chair. Focus your breathing. Feel the textures of the chair. Now, plant your feet firmly and let the negative energy of stress drain down your legs and through the floor. If it helps imagine a color for this negativity, and visualize the color drain away with the stressful energy. Feel the muscles relax and your nerves growing calmer. Additional tips for relieving anxiety: Holding a meaningful object helps some people to focus their thoughts away from anxiety and towards relief. Imagine your thoughts are leaves blowing in the wind and let them come and go. Don’t focus on any one thought. Instead, cast them to the winds and let them float away. If you cannot focus on grounding methods, perhaps you need to burn off the stress with some physical activity first. Once you are a bit more physically spent, use your five senses to ground your anxiety.

Remember, you will make it through. You are doing the best you can. Peace and good health.

People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them. – George Bernard Shaw

Published by cewheeler

Writer/Artist:12 years in China – univ. lecturer: writing,poetry,culture; editor – magazine/newspaper & actor. 40 years students of the Tao. Traveler. Father. Read my books at:

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