010 Anxiety and Intentional Attention

010 Anxiety and Intentional Attention

Throughout my time running a peer support network for healthcare workers (2020-2022 during the pandemic), there was one exercise that was repeatedly cited as super helpful. The "5-4-3-2-1" exercise. The premise is simple...

How To Perform The 5-4-3-2-1 Exercise for Stress Reduction

First, look around you and pick five things you can see. Go through them one by one, allowing yourself to experience each one. Then, do the same thing with four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and, finally, one thing you can taste.

  • 5 things you can SEE
  • 4 things you can HEAR
  • 3 things you can FEEL
  • 2 things you can SMELL
  • 1 thing you can TASTE

Pay Attention to Attention (It's Important)

We can only put our attention on 5-9 things at a time and this exercise helps us divert it from what was bothering us. Usually, we don't even get to smell or taste because, by that time, our attention is elsewhere and we are physiologically resetting.

This is especially helpful when we are anxious about something that we cannot act on at that moment. But even if we could, stress wasn’t going to help us take action.

Be Intentional About Where You Direct Your Attention

Remember; where attention goes, energy flows. And that thing grows. Beware of negative, anxiety-producing input. If you consume negative content, it will only grow bigger in your mind. Think: Where are you spending (or perhaps even wasting) your attention? Where are you investing your attention?

Use your attention deliberately. Invest it in something that is growth-oriented. Every input counts, even if it’s just background noise.


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