The Five Senses Bringing You to the Present
By: Nancy Hawley, MA, LMHC ~
Most of our occurrences in life are experienced through our senses; touch, taste, feel, hear, see, smell. This is a mindfulness exercise that will help bring you back into the present. This exercise can be helpful when you find your mind drifting back to painful memories, you are being triggered by past memories, or feel your anxiety heightening. This exercise can be done almost anywhere, in the moment. It can takes just a few seconds or a few minutes. I suggest using it as long as you are in a state of hyperarousal, using deep breathing, while focusing on your senses.
Hear: What 5 things can you hear? The sound of your breathing? Far away cars? The humming of the furnace? Take your time to hone in on sounds around you.
See: What 4 things can you see? Look for the breeze blowing through the trees. Is there a particular object that catches your eye? What colors stand out for you?
Touch: What 3 things can you feel? Run your hands over the chair you are sitting in. Feel the fabric on the clothes you are wearing – is it soft, nubby, smooth? Rub your hand over your skin, it can feel soothing. Really take the time to feel what is around you.
Smell: What 2 things can you smell? Is there a perfume or woodsy smell? Are there cooking smells in the air? Can you smell what season you are in?
Taste: What is one thing you can taste? Is there something nearby you can put in your mouth to savor a taste? Can you run your tongue over your teeth and pick up a taste?
When you are through with this exercise you should feel more grounded, more present and your anxiety has decreased. Your mind is in the present moment. Firmly place your feet on the floor and breathe. Ground yourself. Be calm. Be present.
New Year Resolutions; Hurtful or Helpful?
By: Nancy Hawley, MA, LMHC ~
Every year I struggle to come up with New Year resolutions. I struggled as I believed it was what I was supposed to do. Where that message came from is unbeknownst to me but it’s there. So, every year I try to focus on the expectation, set some goals and ultimately fail. After all, if I can’t get to the gym in May, what makes me think I will get there on January 2nd? If I have trimmed my budget in the previous year, what else is there to trim off? What happens when we set resolutions and then don’t make progress? We feed our failure which feeds our stress, anxiety and depression. We come to believe we will never be able to be successful at anything.
Instead of allowing failure to feed us and increase our stress and anxiety, take baby steps. Baby steps allow us to build on our goals in smaller increments. Just like a baby, the first step is the hardest. Babies don’t start walking until they have taken a step and fallen but they don’t give up. Of course, babies don’t have the mental ability to realize all of the skills they have learned to take that first step. So, let’s start with baby steps.
1. Imagine your resolution
Yes, you only need to have one. Baby steps, remember? Take time to visualize this. What will it look like? What do you imagine will be the benefits? If becoming healthier is a goal, imagine what you can do as a healthier person. Is being healthier mean ultimately running a marathon or is the goal to simply feel better?
2. Break it down
Remember all those skills a baby needs to learn before taking the first step? Take that big goal and break it into what needs to happen first. Just writing it down can be a first step but don’t stop there! Write down all the baby steps. If getting healthier is your goal, maybe start by taking a walk around the block, checking out gyms or researching healthy recipes on line. If your resolution is to be more financially fit, the baby step may be giving up one thing per week, perhaps a latte or lunch out. What’s next?
3. Celebrate every little success!
Have you ever seen a baby take their first step? They are filled with wonder, excitement and being oh so proud of themselves. You too should be proud of every step you take. Find ways to celebrate each step -walk to the library and check out a new book, buy yourself a new workout outfit, purchase a new cookbook filled with healthy recipes.
Every step you take towards your resolutions will feed your success, eliminating the feeling of failure. Just like a baby, you may take several falls before you find your footing.