Becoming More Present
Take a second to think about the last time you checked in with yourself. What emotions are you feeling right now? Are you happy, sad, stressed, excited, or anxious? Are you experiencing any pain or discomfort in your body? If you’re just now realizing that you haven’t had a spare second today to really think about the answers to those questions, you wouldn’t be alone. Many of us are so busy trying to balance work, classes, relationships, and hobbies that connecting with our inner selves is the last thing on our minds. Let’s take a look at an exercise that anyone can try, in order to check-in with their senses.
Step outside and go for a walk. While walking, work to identify:
- 5 Things You Can See: Look for things that you would not usually notice about your surroundings, but you now realize you are grateful for or appreciate.
- 4 Things You Can Touch: Try touching something with an interesting texture that you see, or perhaps just try enjoying the wind brushing against your skin.
- 3 Things You Can Hear: Try to listen for season-specific sounds such as leaves crunching under your feet as you walk in the fall, or birds singing and flapping their wings in the spring.
- 2 Things You Can Smell: The outdoors is filled with comforting scents such as fresh-cut grass, trees, flowers, and newly fallen rain. Find what you enjoy and tune into it.
- 1 Thing You Can Taste: Try savoring the taste of a drink or a snack if you brought one on your walk, or just focus on whatever the current taste is in your mouth.
This is the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique. Committing to trying this exercise a few times a week (or any other activity that allows you to focus on your five senses) is an investment in your mental health that can help you reduce feelings of stress and increase relaxation. Happy sensing!
Ackerman, D. (2020). Engaging the five senses. In W. W. IsHak (Ed.)., The handbook of wellness medicine (pp. 448-455). Cambridge University Press.
Tull, M. (2021, July 16). Use your five senses to manage stress levels. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/coping-with-stress-using-self-soothing-skills-2797579#toc-the-soothing-aspects-of-touch