This pandemic has aroused a swirl of really difficult feelings for virtually everyone. We may be feeling afraid, angry, anxious, confused, depressed, helpless, overwhelmed, sad, terrified, vulnerable, or any of a host of other emotions.
Simply acknowledging what we’re feeling, allowing ourselves to feel these things, without judgment, is an important part of self-care.
As I told the students in an online class I taught a few evenings ago: Please know this: whatever you are feeling in the midst of all this, it’s natural, it’s okay, and you are not alone.
A grounding technique can help with anxiety, panic attacks, anytime you may feel disconnected from your body or need to restore a sense of calm and equilibrium. It’s a mindfulness technique that shifts our attention away from anxiety-producing thoughts by focusing on non-threatening things in our immediate environment. Doing this helps to slow the flow of stress hormones and can help to re-calibrate our fight/flight/freeze response system. Research suggests that it can not only reduce stress but also increase our experience of positive emotions.
Find a comfortable position, whether sitting or standing.
Start with a few slow, quiet breaths.
Now, Look around you and notice:
5 things you can SEE right now.
Next, notice 4 things you can TOUCH or FEEL right now.
Now, listen for 3 things you can HEAR in this moment.
Next, what are 2 things you can SMELL. (if you don’t smell anything, think of your two favorite smells.)
And finally, notice 1 thing you can TASTE. What does the inside of your mouth taste like right now?
This five senses grounding technique only takes about a minute. So I encourage you to consider giving yourself the gift of one minute of self-care like this any time throughout the day that you may be struggling with difficult emotions.
A simple alternative that also taps into mindfulness using the five senses is the "Raisin Meditation" from the Greater Good in Action Science Center at UC Berkeley - check it out at https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/raisin_meditation