Mindfulness can be an extremely helpful tool to reduce anxiety. Mindfulness refers to focusing on what is happening in the present moment without judgment. For example, we may focus our attention on what is happening in our mind, body, or environment. When we are using mindfulness, we are focusing on the here and now. We aren’t worrying about the past or what we have going on in the future.

Benefits of using mindfulness:

  • Feel calmer and less stressed
  • Become more self-aware
  • Pay attention and enjoy the present moment
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce physical pain

Mindfulness is a skill that may take practice to develop. It can be common when first using mindfulness to have difficulty focusing on the present moment. When that happens, just to try to gently shift your focus back to the present.

Mindfulness practice example: The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique

The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is a way to focus on the present moment using the 5 senses. Grounding refers to the ability to return your focus to the present moment. When doing this technique, you can either speak aloud or silently to yourself. Although this technique can be done anywhere, the following example demonstrates an instance of using the 5-4-3-2-1 technique at the beach.

5 – What are 5 things you can see?

Notice and describe 5 things you observe around you. Pretend that you are trying to describe your environment to someone on the phone. What colors do you see? How large or small are objects in your environment? Are objects moving or standing still?

Example: If you are at the beach you may see: (1) the blue ocean,  (2) white sand, (3) children playing, (4) seagulls in the sky, and (5) a red beach towel.

4 – What are 4 things you can touch?

Notice what things around you that you can touch, feel. or sense.

Example: At the beach, you may feel: (1) the sunlight against your skin, (2) sand on your feet, (3) sunscreen on your face, and (4) the warmth of a beach towel.

3 – Listen to 3 sounds that you can hear.

Notice all the sounds around you. Try to notice even subtle sounds or brief moments of silence.

Example: At the beach, you may hear the sounds of: (1) the seagulls, (2) waves crashing, and (3) people talking on the beach.

2 – Pick 2 things you can smell.

Are the smells constant or fleeting? How strong are they? Describe what smells you are experiencing.

Example: At the beach, you may smell: (1) the scent of sunscreen or (2) the salt in the air.

1 – Describe 1 thing you can taste.

Example: You may taste the salt in the air at the beach.

After completing the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, notice how it makes you feel. Do you feel more relaxed and calm? Try using this technique to help focus on the present moment.

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