54321 Relaxation Technique

PlayDrMom shares her favorite relaxation technique.  Great for all ages.

For most of us, it is the start of a brand new year.  School is starting and bringing lots changes for many of us.  New schools, new grades, new teachers, new friends, new schedules, new expectations.

New and change = increased anxiety for many.

For me, it is that my first child will start kindergarten tomorrow.  I believe that this is especially tricky for me (emphasis on ME, because Henry will be JUST fine!) because I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful mother who is a director of a wonderful preschool. So, this will be the first time I am putting my son into the hands of strangers for an extended period of time.  And, also, since we are moving within the month he will be starting at a new school in a new town, where we currently only know one other family.  (This raises my anxiety and self-consciousness … but again, not worries for Henry.  Thankfully, he is a really resilient kid)

So … in the spirit of easing anxiety, I will share (and practice myself!) one of my favorite relaxation techniques.  (Please forgive me that I am not sure who created it … if you know, please let me know!)  I call it “54321” and use it frequently with clients (kids, teens, & adults) all the time.  It is very helpful when you have racing or repeating thoughts that contribute to raising one’s anxiety.  Use it yourself … or help your child go through the technique … better yet, do it TOGETHER!

Start out by rating your current anxiety/worry/stress level on a scale from 1 to 10 … with 1 being little to none and 10 being the most you can ever imagine.  (rating it now will be helpful in determining whether the technique worked).

Then, simply list in your head, or out loud (when I am doing this with clients I make them say it aloud) …

FIVE things that you SEE.

then, FIVE things you HEAR.  (sometimes this takes awhile, but take your time)

then, FIVE things you FEEL (not emotional feelings, but physical … like I feel my foot in my shoe, etc)

Now, list FOUR things you SEE, FOUR things you HEAR, FOUR things you FEEL

And then list THREE things you SEE, THREE things you HEAR, THREE things you FEEL

And TWO things you SEE, TWO things you HEAR, TWO things you FEEL

ONE thing you SEE, ONE thing you HEAR, ONE thing you FEEL

Take a few deep breaths … and rate your anxiety/worry/fear now.  Did it help?  If not try it again at different times.  Sometimes you just need to practice it a bit … and sometimes it’s just not the technique for you.  BUT … it’s worth a try!

Best wishes to all … parents, students, teachers, therapists, support staff … for a great, compassionate, PLAYFUL year at school!

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Laura Hutchison

Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.

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