By Wendy Elliott, MFT, Recovery Centers of America
Ever feel like your body and mind are revved up and spiraling out of control? Learning how to slow down and settle into the present takes practice – but can bring the peace and calm we all need sometimes.
When deciding what may be effective for you, focus on your 5 senses. Each sense stimulates a different part of your brain. By stimulating one part, other areas can take a break, relax, and reorganize thoughts. If these racing thoughts also affect your body, being mindful around the 5 senses gives focus to your body too.
Give these quick tips a try the next time you need to offer your mind some peace.
10 tips to consider
- Drink a glass of water or sip a mug of tea. Feel the liquid in your mouth, squish it around, swallow and feel in slip down your throat. Repeat. Bonus effect: Hydration helps with brain functioning too!
- Find an object in your home that evokes pleasant memories (fresh linens, coffee, a cut orange, cinnamon, etc.), close your eyes and breathe in the scent while relishing the feeling of peace.
- Step outside. Focus on what you can hear in the environment. This may be difficult if your mind is screaming at you. Do you hear birds? Cars? Your footsteps on the ground? Try to name at least 5 different things you can hear.
- Run your fingers over your skin. How does it feel when you touch your hands, your knee, your ears, your stomach? Feel both the receiving end AND the giving end. How do each of these areas feel on our fingertips?
- Look up. Study the ceiling or the sky. Do you see patterns? Clouds? Shadows and colors? Are there chips of paint? Rust? Water spots? Birds? Tree branches? Spend a full minute looking up.
- Select a food that you consider decadent and reserve it for a time you need to slow down. Is it cheese? Carefully slice it, put it on a plate, sit down and nibble, tasting each bite and chewing slowly. It can be anything. Bonus points for selecting a food that has high nutritional value…whether it is vitamins, protein, or good fats.
- Step outside. Breathe in deeply. What do you smell? Decaying leaves? Dirt? Garbage truck? Exhaust? Flowers? Fertilizer? Decide if it is a pleasant smell or an unpleasant smell. Move around until you can find one scent you enjoy.
- Music. Especially if it is free from lyrics. Headphones are great for drowning out all other sounds as you listen. Pick out harmonies and melody lines. Find the beat.
- Have a pet? Rub your hands on their fur. Petting animals releases a relaxing hormone. Don’t have a pet? Maybe a partner or a child would let you play with their hair. Bonus effect: It’s soothing to them too!
- Find a view from a window that frames a pleasant image. It can be of the sky, of trees, the side of a building, a bustling street. Spend some time, not moving your head and focusing on taking a snapshot of that view into your brain. Each time you revisit that exact picture, notice changes over time.
As you read this list, focus on one or two and try to complete them. Give them a go and see how you feel.