Two minute tip: Reduce stress and anxiety anywhere, anytime

A global pandemic is certainly a time where we are all at different times experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty which can feel debilitating.

In this two-minute tip I’m going to share a proven and well-known method - the 54321 mindfulness technique - to help anchor your body and mind in the present to help you calm your racing thoughts and alleviate stress. The best bit, you can do anywhere, anytime and it’s quick.

What is 54321?

It is an anchoring technique that helps your mind and body to find moments of calm in the present.

The 54321 mindfulness technique connects our physical body back to our minds through our senses. It works by taking a moment to relax the brain and focus our attention on our present surroundings. This allows our brains time to calm down, and our breath to reset and steady. This in turn helps the mind and body to relax.

How does it work?

When heightened emotions like stress and anxiety start to take hold they can be all consuming.

Imagine you’re a boat on the sea. As these emotions rise within you it’s as though you’re being swept up into an emotional storm full of swirling seas and choppy waves. You’re unable to find a calm and steady resting place.

The 54321 mindfulness technique allows you to drop anchors down to the solid ground. And, with each sense you engage another anchor is hooked into the earth. This helps your emotions to settle and for you to find calm waters again.

Now try it:

Breathe in and out a couple of times to settle yourself.

1. Now, look For 5 Things You Can See

(This is anything around you, a chair, a car, leaves on trees perhaps the clouds in the sky).

2. Next, focus your attention on 4 things you can touch

(This could be the cotton of your top, the feel of a bag on your shoulder, the floor beneath you).

3. Then, listen notice 3 things you can hear

(This could be cars driving by, birds in the trees, maybe even people talking).

4. Now focus your awareness on 2 things you can smell

(This could be smoke from a fire, food cooking, the earth after rain).

5. Finally, notice 1 thing you can taste.

(This could be a anything from coffee to cake… and everything inbetween).

You can repeat the exercise as many times as you need or do it a few times a day at times of stress to help anchor yourself right in the here and now.

There’s a lot at the moment to be worried, stressed and fearful about. But our minds are our greatest tools that we have to help us navigate these difficult times. So finding ways to reset our thoughts, shift our focus and give ourselves the gift of a time out are essential for our wellbeing.

We have to keep trying to be hopeful and positive wherever and whenever we can. The 54321 technique is a quick, simple and effective way to anchor your body and your mind in the present, giving you relief from the swirling thoughts that can feel never ending and uncontrollable.

Being kind to ourselves is a good place to start to embrace the calm we need to find solid ground in these difficult times.

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