7 Ways to Calm Down Blog Series, Part Two
In the calm place visualization I wrote about last week, the five senses are used to make the positive scene more real. This is because the five senses help us to really connect to and experience what’s around us. You can also use the five senses to calm yourself down on a day to day basis.
Consciously using your five senses can be a surprisingly effective way to reduce upset and fogginess, helping you to feel more grounded. This can be helpful if your thoughts are racing, your emotions are overwhelming you, or you feel like you’re not really present (such as feeling far away, disconnected or numb.)
All you need to do is take 2-3 minutes, wherever you are, to consciously connect with your environment:
1. Look around
Look at the objects around you. Notice and describe to yourself what you see. What colours, textures and shapes are around you?
For instance: “I see a bookshelf with different books on it. They are green, blue, brown, and other colours. Some are tall, and some are worn at the corners, some are fabric and others are shiny paper. They each have different text on them…”
Once you’re described an object clearly to yourself, move onto the next. Take the time to really look at these objects and take them in.
Next, notice what sounds you hear. Take time to notice your breathing, nearby voices, birds, or the whir of a computer. Describe them to yourself. It can be surprising just how many sounds there are around you when you stop and pay attention.
3. Smell and taste
Take time to notice the smells and tastes in your environment. There can be less of these, but often there will be something for you to notice.
Observe what you feel on your skin and in your body. Notice sensations that are already there, or touch things around you and notice how they feel. Describe these to yourself.
Also notice how your body is feeling in general – are you tense, relaxed, hungry? What does that feel like? Observing your body sensations can also attune you to helpful information your body may be giving you.
This exercise can be done wherever you are. Next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious or caught up in past memories, try it. Next week’s blog will also focus on using an ability you already carry with you, using a simple breathing exercise to increase calm.
Side note: “5-4-3-2-1” is a popular structured way to ground using the five senses. You can try noticing sets of 5 for each of the five senses, then 4, then 3 etc. (Imagination can be used when you run out of real things.) You can also do this exercise with 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel on your skin, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste. If you like or need more structured exercises, this can be helpful.