More is going on in the world than our brains can process in a sensible manner. Opinions fill our minds, comparisons, contrasts, attempts to decipher the truth and other mental phenomena that have us dealing with fatigue just from a segment of the non-stop 24-hour sensationalized news. And we won’t even get into the accompanying emotions – if they can even be called that anymore. At this point, the emotions we are experiencing have become so consistent in their state that they can probably now be classified as full on conditions. An extended state of worry is no longer just worry, but has progressed into being considered anxiety. And prolonged anxiety eventually leads to those dreaded panic attacks. I’ll stop referring to it now because the very thought of those emotions sometimes evokes them and we have been triggered enough.
ENOUGH. This is the keyword. The thought around which we build our next course of action. ENOUGH. It is time to create safer spaces within ourselves and to improve our own mental environments. You have had ENOUGH accounts of negativity in the world – far and near – and have a general idea of what is going on around you and that is ENOUGH. What deserves more of your attention at this time, is how are feeling? How is your family feeling? If you all are experiencing the stress and emotional fatigue that I suspect (because I myself have had to check in to make sure that I too am okay), then it is probably time to discover ways to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE your precious energy.
In this article, we will engage the 5 senses as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and bringing our attention away from the storms around us to connect with the peace and quiet that lives within us. Using our senses as little guideposts to draw our attention gently back in is an easy mindfulness exercise that you can use right smack dab in the middle of anything and anywhere. Choose whichever is easiest for you to accomplish at the time, or involve all of them in the same moment of You-Time that you create for yourself.
- SIGHT: Find something beautiful to look at. Nature is always a shoe in, but if that’s not possible at the moment – make sure you’re carrying a visually engaging photo, book, postcard or something that positively sparks your imagination or draws you into a serene scene
- SOUND: Earbuds can be your bestfriend sometimes. With so many apps and mp3s of guided meditations or relaxing sounds, you can transport yourself into a calming space by closing your eyes and drifting into sonic bliss.
- TOUCH: You know how good it feels when you put a warm blanket fresh out the dryer over you. Or how good it feels to rub against something soft because touch is kind of a big deal. Snuggle with a favorite blanket, wear a cozy sweater, get a little stuffed animal to rub – your brain will appreciate being to change the channel to a comforting sensation (even if someone does wonder why you’re rubbing a little furry keychain – don’t worry about that, it’s for your mental health!)
- SMELL: Scents are powerful. So maybe you’re not ready to go full aroma-therapy yet, you can still find an oil, perfume, incense – or even a box of dryer sheets – that you decide to smell to shift your attention onto something pleasant. Our brains respond powerfully to smell, and if you inhale a scent while engaging in self-soothing thoughts, “I am relaxed, I am blessed today, these are the things I am grateful for,” while inhaling, eventually you’ll associate that scent with your peaceful moments.
- TASTE: Ok so, we’re usually pretty good at this one. Especially us stress eaters. So practicing this in a healthy way improves our responses to stress and emotional overwhelm in 2 ways. To bring your attention to the present moment and give yourself something that you enjoy, feel free to taste the goodness of life. Is that ice cream? Is that a flavor of gum that you chew while having self-encouraging thoughts? Is that a cup of tea that you sip as you read the promises of God? Treat yourself when you need to, in a healthy way.
Remembering that the goal is to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE our precious energy, we engage in these practices in a mindful way so that the effects we experience are positive, life-giving, and healthful. Don’t overdo anything. Do just enough to draw your attention back in to what is important, what deserves love, and what is the most meaningful in this moment.