Using Your 5 Senses to Calm Anxiety

If you sometimes find yourself lost in worry and anxiety about all the bad things that could happen in the future, it might be time to give mindfulness a try.

Mindfulness is a mental practice that helps people focus on the present moment. Instead of fixating on what might go wrong, mindfulness roots you in place and helps you see what’s really in front of you.

Research on mindfulness has pointed to practitioners experiencing fewer depressive symptoms, reduced stress, less emotional reactivity and greater mental flexibility. They also tend to ruminate, or worry, less frequently.

If those are benefits you’re seeking, there’s a simple exercise you can practice to get started on your own mindfulness journey. The technique uses all five senses and is a simple tool to remember in times of great stress or worry. Counting down, simply notice:

  • Five things you can see. Wherever you are, look around and observe five items with your eyes. Notice colors, textures and patterns.
  • Four things you can feel. Focus your attention on the feel of your clothing and the surfaces around you. Take note of the smoothness of a table or the feel of grass on your bare feet.
  • Three things you can hear. Listen for the sounds around you. It could be co-workers, traffic or birds singing.
  • Two things you can smell. Use your nose to bring yourself in touch with your surroundings. Are you wearing scented lotion today or is there fresh coffee nearby?
  • One thing you can taste. Savor a piece of gum, candy or a sip of your drink. Experience its flavor in your mouth.

There are many ways to get started with mindfulness, including meditation. Try this guided meditation from Carol Hendershot, co-founder of the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness and listen to her expand on the benefits of a mindfulness practice on this episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast.

Do you have a mindfulness practice? How has it helped you stay in the moment and worry less? Tell us in the comments.

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Photo credit: Eva-Katalin

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