the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, exercise

Go through the process of recognizing your 5 senses in the present moment.

Name 5 things you can see.

    • Could be a piece of art, a telephone, a cup, a book, a pen/pencil, a door, etc.

Name 4 things you can hear.

    • Could be someone talking, your breathing, someone walking by, the sound of rubbing your hands together.

Name 3 things you can feel. 

    • Could be the seat you are sitting on, the feeling of rubbing your hands together, your clothes resting on your body

Name 2 things you can smell or taste. 

    • Could be a felt marker, perfume/cologne, flowers, fresh baking. Could be nothing at all.

Take 1 mindful breath.

    • Notice with awareness as you breathe in and out.

      Adapted from work by Betty Erickson and Yvonne Dolan



Spacing out, Off in the clouds, Trance, Checking out, Dissociation. These are all different words for a normal part of the human experience.  Sometimes we just go away, not physically but mentally. Sometimes we can feel so anxious that it’s hard to think or do what you need to do in the moment. To support yourself to come back from being checked out or to calm yourself, try these suggestions and see if it works to bring yourself back to the present moment.

The goal of these exercises is to feel more grounded or present. If this doesn’t happen, please try something elseor speak to your counsellor about it.

The “Activate Large Muscles” Exercise


One at a time, place each hand against your opposite elbow and push the two against each other.  You can do this with your arms and legs too by pressing your elbow or hand inside your knee and pushing your leg against your arm.


Counselling Services, Student Affairs, Building 200, 3rd Floor, 250.740.6416