Since the pandemic started, I have written here, here, and here about mental health approaches to coping with stress and anxiety. We live in stressful times, and there are often peaks and valleys as things settle and others start to bubble. In December, the holidays add their own layer of stress; regardless of your faith and traditions, the weight of expectations can be weighty indeed.
In developing this calendar, I remembered a technique for calming anxiety. Different organizations have described it, but I like how the Mayo Clinic sets theirs up. First sit quietly. Look around you and notice:
- Five things you can see: Your hands, the sky, a plant on your colleague’s desk
- Four things you can physically feel: Your feet on the ground, a ball, your friend’s hand
- Three things you can hear: The wind blowing, children’s laughter, your breath
- Two things you can smell: Fresh-cut grass, coffee, soap
- 1 thing you can taste: A mint, gum, the fresh air
The clinic says: This exercise helps you shift your focus to your surroundings in the present moment and away from what is causing you to feel anxious. It can help interrupt unhealthy thought patterns.
Focusing on your senses takes you outside your head and into the world around you. Number, categories, and structure help bring calm through order.