These are uncertain and challenging times for everyone. There’s a great deal of uncertainty, chaos, and challenges. There’s fear, anxiety, trauma, and grief. OK, I don’t want to put a damper on your day…these topics are supposed to be inspiring, right? But the fact is we are dealing with all of those realities and many of us are feeling challenged because we can’t control a lot of what’s going on out there right now.
One technique I learned years ago, and still use all the time, is incredibly powerful in times like these. It’s a grounding technique that helps calm your physiology and your psychology, so that you can decide how you want to respond to circumstances around you. The strategy brings you back to a place of mindfulness in this moment, space, and time, so you’re less likely to ruminate and get more anxious, and you’re more likely to make responsive, intentional decisions about how you want to move forward. So, here’s the grounding technique I first learned from my dear friend, Pam, Matchie-Thiede (thanks Pam!). I teach it to my audiences, the teams I work with, my coaching clients, and my kids. I refer to it as the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique.
It’s deceptively quick and easy…not to mention effective. All you do is identify things in your environment that meet certain criteria, and that process gently brings you right back to your heart center and to the center of this moment. Start by looking around you…identify FIVE things you can SEE, FOUR things you can FEEL or TOUCH, THREE things you can HEAR, TWO things you can SMELL, and ONE thing you can TASTE. It sounds ridiculously simple, but simple is often the absolute best approach to calm yourself during times like these.
So, right now, in my environment, I would look around for FIVE things I can SEE, repeating to myself, “I see the mirror behind me, I see the television in the corner, I see the ottoman across the room, I see the green plant in the background, and I see the wood floor.” Then I’d look for FOUR things I can FEEL or TOUCH; “I feel the coolness of the wood floor, I feel the breeze coming from the register exchange in the corner, I feel my yoga pants (which I’m delighted to be wearing because they’re super comfortable), I feel the very uncomfortable chair that I’m sitting on, so I’m glad in comfy yoga pants.” Next, I’ll identify THREE things I can HEAR, “I can hear traffic outside my window, I can hear the faint humming of the television because it’s on pause, I can hear that whooshing sound coming from the heat register.”
We’re almost back to this moment in time and space. Next, I’ll identify TWO things I can SMELL, “I smell the bacon I cooked my nieces for their breakfast this morning, and I can smell the hair product I used today.” Finally, I’ll name ONE thing I can TASTE, “I can taste toothpaste, because I just brushed my teeth.”
Simple process, yet profoundly powerful for the body. It helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, orients you back to this moment, and puts you in control of your mind, body, and ultimately your responses. I encourage you to practice this in good health and happiness this week. Stay in, stay well, stay strong.
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