Stressful situations inevitably arise during the day. They are simply part of the human experience, but you don’t have to let those moments determine your behavior or your emotions. For smokers, reaching for a cigarette is a common response to stress. However, if you prepare to face these situations in advance, you will not have to rely on harmful and unhealthy forms of temporary relief.
This is where the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique comes into play. The exercise is designed to calm your mind so you can maneuver through stressful situations. The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique uses all five senses to better focus and sensitize the current moment and your surroundings. By taking your attention away from the stressful experience, you can clear your mind and work on productive solutions to address the root cause of the stress.
Starting is easy: take a deep, slow, and long breath before continuing with the following steps:
5. SEE: Acknowledge five things you can see around you. Options can range from a pen or stapler on your desk to a bird or tree outside your window. You can check out a family photo on the wall or a glass of water on the kitchen counter. The choice is yours – choose between large and small items to keep your options open.
4th TOUCH: Acknowledge four things that you can touch around you. You can start with your hair, hands, elbows, and other body parts if you are short on time. The floor under your feet, whether it’s the floor of your bedroom or the office at work. Pillows, desks, phones, and keyboards can also be used to accomplish this step.
3. LISTEN: Acknowledge three things that you can hear around you. Focus on outside noises rather than listening to your own thoughts or noises from your body, like when your stomach is growling. Examples include someone driving a car, a clock ticking, or a dog barking nearby.
2. ODOR: Acknowledge two things around you that you can smell. This step can be challenging compared to the others. So it is best to go somewhere with more scent sources if you can’t smell anything at the moment, wherever you are. There are plenty of opportunities for odor outside, and the soap in the bathrooms helps too. At home, your furniture can also smell nice.
1. TASTE: Acknowledge something around you that you can taste. It doesn’t have to be food, as toothpaste and mint floss that you use in the morning or evening are easy sources. You can also enjoy the cinnamon-raisin-oatmeal flour for breakfast, the sandwich and fries for lunch, or the Primavera pasta for dinner. Even your daily drinks give you a chance to experience the taste.
Finish this exercise with a long, deep breath.