As we all can use some de-stressing tips, Mrs. Nicole Saulkaus, Lower/Middle School Counselor, shared a 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Anyone can remember these five simple steps to take that will help create reduce symptoms caused by stress to provide some relief. Taking these five steps won’t eliminate stress, but can significantly help manage it at any age.
“This countdown exercise is helpful to bring your attention to the present moment, allowing you to refocus your thoughts,” said Mrs. Saulkaus. “As you walk through the steps, focus on each direction, it redirects your brain to give your mind time to focus on something new. The breathing is a big part of changing your mindset.”
First, start with deep breathing. Breathe in for five seconds, hold the breath for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds. Continue this pattern until thoughts are slowing down, or until necessary.
Once you find your breath, do the countdown to help focus what is present through noticing external surroundings:
FIVE (5): Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. Notice the bird and its colored feathers, the pencil with a dull point, a funny-shaped spot on the ceiling – however big or small, call out or mentally note five things you see.
FOUR (4): Acknowledge FOUR things you can physically touch around you. Maybe this is your hair, the grass, a pet’s fur, a fuzzy pillow, whatever is in your reach, list out four things you can feel.
THREE (3): Acknowledge THREE things that you can hear as you are seated and listening to your surroundings (do not focus on your thoughts). It can be the ticking of a clock, a car driving by, a dog’s bark, or the radio playing music. List three things you hear when making your list.
TWO (2): Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. What can you smell? This one might be tricky and require you to walk around to find a scent. A walk to the kitchen or outside will provide a variety of scents to sniff. Make note of two smells, good and bad!
ONE (1): Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like, maybe chewing gum, toothpaste, or the sandwich from lunch? Maybe it’s time for a snack – and when you do taste something, focus on the flavor – is it salty or sweet? Cold or hot? Crunchy or smooth? Focus on tasting one thing as the last step.
Try this simple exercise to focus on the present and reduce stress.