How To Use The 54321 Method To Stop A Panic Attack In Minutes

It's the grounding exercise we all need.

54321 method microgen / Getty Images via Canva

Grounding techniques are great to use to help with anxiety problems, especially panic attacks. They often require deep breathing and keeping your eyes open, but there are other methods you can use as well.

The 54321 method is a resource tool to keep in the back of your mind for situations where you feel like your heart is beating out of your chest and you can't breathe.

The particular method helps bring you back to the present moment instead of flying off into the land of what-ifs where anxiety reigns.


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What is the 54321 method?

The 54321 method, also known as the 5 senses grounding technique or 5 senses technique, is a grounding exercise that can help ease anxiety by bringing you into the present moment. It combines all 5 of your senses to aid you in mindfulness.


This exercise ends up isolating each sense to reconnect you back to your body when feelings of overwhelm become too much and inhibit you from concentrating.

The idea is that if your mind is distracted by focusing on each sense, it can no longer drown you in anxiety. The best part is that you can do this anywhere, at any time, in any position when you feel anxious.

It can help with stress management, PTSD flashbacks, insomnia, and panic disorders.

How to Use the 54321 Method to Ground Yourself

1. Name 5 things you can see.

This step is focused on the sense of sight. Sight can help you understand where you are, so pick out 5 things you can see right now. It can be anything from a clock on a wall to a plant in the corner.


Take your time and truly look at what you are seeing. Take in the shape, size, and color of what you see.

2. Focus on 4 things you can touch.

Next, pick out 4 things you can touch with any part of your body. Try to focus on comforting things and notice how you feel when you touch them.

Take in their texture. What does it feel like?

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3. Acknowledge 3 things you can hear.

Sound is a sense that has varying levels of stimulation. Do your best to notice the quiet background noises rather than the loud robust ones like someone talking.

It can be the ticking of a clock, a tapping of a pen, or leaves blowing in the wind. Pay attention to the sounds that bring you comfort and dismiss the ones that increase your anxiety.


4. Notice 2 things you can smell.

Next, single out 2 things that you can smell. This is one of the more challenging parts of the 54321 method, but smell can be very helpful to ease anxiety.

Smell is one of the strongest senses that can relay memories or improve moods. When a smell is pleasant, it can elicit a calming sensation throughout the body, which is beneficial for people suffering panic attacks or anxiety symptoms.

Again, these smells can be anything from the perfume you are wearing to the pages of a book.

5. Become aware of 1 thing you can taste.

Finally, you will end the exercise by focusing on one thing you can taste. This goes hand in hand with smell being a good way to elicit memories. You can chew on a piece of gum or take a sip of a drink.


If you don't have anything on you at the moment, you can still focus on what your mouth tastes like. You may have some leftover residue from the last meal or beverage you had that day.

Why is the 54321 method so effective?

The 54321 method is effective because it calms the mind. Studies have shown that a calm mind is an effective mind.

When we are stressed, incoming information doesn't get processed correctly, which means we end up reactively responding to it rather than being able to fully comprehend and understand, and then acting rationally.


At its core, the 54321 method distracts a hyperactive mind. There have also been studies concluding that detaching yourself is one of the better ways to regain control.

The 54321 does just that. It allows you to detach yourself from the emotional pain of anxiety to focus on your 5 senses. And once you are distracted from anxious thoughts, you can regain control of your mind.

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Deauna Nunes is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic.