What is the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise? (+3 Useful tips)
In this detailed post, we will be explaining what the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is and how it works in helping the person. In addition to this, we will also be listing the benefits of this exercise and the conditions where it can be used.
What is the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise?
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is a coping technique that is used to reduce anxiety and stress levels in individuals. This simple exercise is often recommended by mental health professionals for anyone and everyone who is dealing with stress.
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise or the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise uses the following steps.
1. Notice and acknowledge FIVE things that you can see.
2. Notice and acknowledge FOUR things that you can touch.
3. Notice and acknowledge THREE things that you can hear.
4. Notice and acknowledge TWO things that you can smell.
5. Notice and acknowledge ONE thing that you can taste.
The 5-4-3-2-1 exercise does far more than just distract you and genuinely helps become more mindful of your present. It can be used as a simple coping technique for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
How does the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise work?
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise of the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise works mainly through mindfulness. Mindfulness is basically the act of becoming more aware of your present situation and becoming more grounded in the current moment.
The best thing about the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is that you use all your physical senses to become aware of the environment around you. By using your physical senses, you are bound to use your mental senses less and thereby are distracted from our mental anxiety.
The acknowledgements of the things around you in your environment are also very neutral in nature and therefore you are free from passing judgment or absorbing judgment. This further frees your body and mind from the anxious thoughts that are gripping it.
Benefits of the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise or the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise holds numerous advantages and benefits and this is the reason why it is very commonly recommended and used by people everywhere. The benefits of the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise are listed below.
The exercise is very simple
The best benefit or advantage of using the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is that it is truly very simple. The exercise is very easy to learn and it is pretty impossible to get confused about the steps, even when the person is going through a panic attack.
It can be used by any age group
This exercise is super-easy to learn and use on a daily basis and therefore can be used by any age group. From kids to aged people, anyone can easily learn the steps of this coping technique to deal with various daily stressors.
It is truly effective
While the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is definitely simple and easy to learn, it is also very effective. This exercise uses a brilliant combination of mindfulness and relaxation to bring a calming effect on the user.
It can be used in combination
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise or the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise can also be used in combination with other tools and techniques to improve the effects. Some people tend to use this exercise in a combination with deep breathing for a better effect.
Other people tend to use the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise along with affirmations and positive self-talk to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence when they need it the most, such as when they are about to face a group for a performance.
It does not need any tools
Another superb advantage of the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is that it does not need any tools or devices. It only requires the person to keep a count and use their physical senses one after the other to acknowledge things in their immediate environment.
When can the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise be used?
The ‘5 things you can see’ exercise can be used in the following conditions and situations,
General anxiety disorder
General anxiety disorder or GAD leads to increased feelings of anxiety to even minute triggers. Apart from medications, certain relaxation techniques and coping strategies like the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise can also be helpful for those who are living with GAD.
Phobias of any sort
Phobias come in many shapes and forms and coping with these can be difficult, even with therapy and medications. The main treatment for phobias is desensitization which couples relaxation techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise along with structured exposure.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder is affecting more and more people, especially after the onset of the pandemic. To cope with this disorder, techniques like the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise can be used in stressful situations.
High levels of stress
In case a person is going through high levels of stress, this can also call for the use of coping strategies like the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Stress caused by sudden life changes like divorce, or certain milestones like moving out can also lead to anxiety attacks.
Performance anxiety is pretty common among entertainers, students and even athletes. To cope with this, mental health professionals often suggest practicing coping strategies and techniques like the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise to keep stress levels low.
In case a person is struggling to control their anger levels, coping techniques like the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise can be used. This, along with the necessary therapy sessions, can make anger management simple and easy for the person.
ADHD or ADD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder can make simple everyday things very difficult. Since the condition is not curable but only treatable, coping strategies like the 5-4-3-2-1 techniques can come in handy to counter the symptoms.
Certain conditions like cancer and arthritis can lead to chronic pain and this can severely reduce the quality of life in individuals. While medications are very important for the management of chronic pain, relaxation techniques like body scanning and even 5-4-3-2-1 can be useful.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can cause immense anxiety in the person, especially when they have countered a certain trigger factor. OCD is often treated with a combination of therapy and medication, but even techniques like the ‘5 things you can see’ can be helpful.
While the exercise may not thwart the obsessions and the compulsions completely, it can help in reducing stress and anxiety levels. During stressful situations, the person may indulge in rituals and grounding techniques can reduce this need.
Tips to use the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise
While using the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise, you can follow these tips for more effectiveness:
- Make sure that your eyes are open at all times. Vision is a very strong sense and by seeing the objects around when you smell, hear or feel them can help in instilling a stronger sense of grounding in you.
- If you are new to the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise and are finding it hard to follow through every time you get stressed, you can take the help of a buddy or a friend to practice the exercise along with you.
- While the technique may not work the first time or the second time, continuous practice will bring you the best effects. So, make sure that you are practicing it regularly whenever you counter a stressful situation that it becomes an automatic response.
In this detailed post, we have explained what the ‘5 things you can see’ exercise is and how it works in helping the person. In addition to this, we have also listed the benefits of this exercise and the conditions where it can be used.
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