The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

by Henry Mak

Throughout my time at The Data School I've had to present my work to an audience many times.

In my previous blog posts I've described moments where I've been quite nervous (DS23: My journey so far… 1 week in and A Reflective Log of My First Client Project). Here is a technique that has helped me out in this aspect. It's aimed to bring you back to the present and to naturally stop any racing thoughts that you may have before a demo/talk or just in general.


The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

First you want to be mindful of your breath. Is it shallow, is it deep? Are you breathing with your chest or stomach? Follow your breath a few times, not necessarily trying to change how you're breathing at that exact time.

The next thing you want to do is to become aware of your environment:

5 - Look for five things that you can see

4 - Become aware of four things you can touch/feel

3 -  Acknowledge three things you can hear

2 -  Notice two things you can smell

1 - Realise one thing you can taste

So for example, the first five things I can see in front of my as I type are: My retainer box, a USB stick, my headphones, my external hard drive and my glasses case.

The four things I can touch/feel is the keyboard, some MDF, the carpet and cardboard.

The three things I can hear is my music coming from my speakers, the traffic outside and my chair squeaking.

The two things I can smell is my neighbour's washing powder and the sweet smell of nature(?).

The thing I can taste is the soup that I had for dinner about an hour ago.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Keep it simple. You might do this out loud or in your head. For example "I can feel the socks that I'm wearing".

When noticing these things I understand that some of them might be hard to pin down: for example the smells, the taste and even the noises. However, try your best - it's the intention that counts. An alternative would be to think about your favourite smells and tastes.

Feel free to repeat these steps as many times as you feel necessary.


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Extra reading:

Mindfulness - NHS

Headspace (An app with free content/trial for mindfulness and meditation)

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