The Power of Your 5 Senses When You’re Anxious

Do you know that your 5 senses are a very powerful tool when you’re feeling anxious?

Have you ever had the experience where you are feeling anxious, as if the anxiety is going to take over and your thoughts feel like a speeding train that you can’t stop? This quick and easy exercise is for you…

Do one or two long exhales first.
A deep inhale will follow automatically, but start with the exhale because that activates the body’s calming systems. Then answer these questions (it is more helpful to answer them out loud)…

What do you see around you?
Describe each item with a detail or two. For example: “a green wall, my favorite chair, the picture that my cousin gave me, the torn rug”

What do you hear?
Name a few sounds you hear. For example: “the running furnace, a motorcycle outside”

What do you smell?
Name two or three smells that you can pick out. For example: “lunch leftovers, someone’s perfume, musty air”

What do you taste?
You might only have one or two tastes or other sensations that you notice. For example: “I still taste garlic from supper or my mouth feels dry”

What can you touch around you?
Describe how your clothes, furniture, or other things feel. For example: “my shirt feels soft, my dog feels fuzzy, the desk feels smooth”

If the anxiety is very intense, it may be hard to walk yourself through each of these because your mind will want to wander over to the anxious thoughts. In that case, ask a friend or family member to ask you each of these questions and say your responses out loud to them.

The power of this exercise is to bring you in the moment. Anxious thoughts are typically intense worries (whether real or imagined) about the future and they feed into each other in a vicious cycle.

Focusing on your 5 senses in the here and now helps to break that vicious thought cycle.

Try this exercise and let me know how it worked for you.

If you are looking to follow this up with a good book, one of my favorites is Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change.

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