I have found January to be a very exciting yet overwhelming month, with starting a new job, marathon training, buying my first little flat (!!!), a variety of volunteering commitments, financial struggles (new flat = permanently in the -£ for the next 86 years), etc.
Like many others, I have found myself counting down the days until January is over and we’re one month closer to spring. However, I also believe that by wishing time away you miss all the great things that are happening right now.
Something that has really helped me over the past couple of months, and in general when I’m feeling overwhelmed, is the five senses mindfulness exercise. This is an exercise that I discovered during CBT, focusing on bringing awareness to each of the five senses (I promise this isn’t as wishy-washy as it sounds).
This exercise involves isolating one sense at a time, essentially allowing you to reconnect to the present. I have a list on my phone that I refer to whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed – this list is too long to share, but here are a few of my favourites:
Old books, new books, all the books.
Sipping a cup of tea. I know I’m supposed to say herbal tea, but that would be a lie – I am, of course, referring to a classic English breakfast.
Listening to Fleetwood Mac. Obvs. My marathon training playlist is also quite spectacular.
Experiencing the sunrise on a morning run. Reading screenshots of positive messages sent by friends and family. Looking through photos of inspirational places I have been, or any photos that trigger great memories.
Taking a warm bath. Spending a couple of minutes stroking a dog/cat/any animal that isn’t a tarantula.
All the above are simple things that I can do to calm my mind. Usually, I will pick one sense and focus solely on that – for me, taste and sight are usually the most effective self-soothing strategies.
I understand that there are many different versions of the five senses mindfulness exercise; this is just what works best for me, and of course, you need to work out what works best for you.
I know a lot of people are feeling a little bit wintered-out (I don’t think that’s a legitimate phrase but urban dictionary says it is soooo that’s that) – so why not give this exercise a go?
Please do let me know if you try this (or if it’s something that you already implement) – I would love to hear what your thoughts are and whether you think this is a helpful tool.