By Hope Bresnahan, MSW, LCSW
Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our daily lives and left many of us feeling overwhelmed. Whether your mind is bouncing around or you and your child are struggling to stay emotionally regulated, we could all use some extra coping skills in our toolboxes right now. The following mindfulness-based technique is an easy exercise that parents and kids can do together to ground themselves in the present moment and restore a sense of calm.
The Five Senses
Gently bring your attention to your breath. If possible, find a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down. Another great option is to practice this exercise outdoors.
Take a few slow, deep belly breaths and then continue to work through the following steps:
LOOK: Name FIVE (5) things you can see. Say out loud “I can see…” describing each object in as much detail as possible.
TOUCH: Notice FOUR (4) things you can feel. For example, wiggle your toes on a soft carpet or notice the sensation of a piece of clothing on your body. Reach your arms up towards the sky and feel the stretch in your muscles. Hold an object in your hands; take note of its weight and texture.
LISTEN: Acknowledge THREE (3) things you hear. Tune in to external sounds your mind is used to filtering out. Take note of the clock ticking, the tumbling of the laundry machine, a family member talking in another room. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts too!
SMELL: Find TWO (2) things you can smell. Smell a pillow or soap. Look for a scented candle or perfume. Take a brief walk and observe the smells of nature.
TASTE: Acknowledge ONE (1) thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like? Chew a piece of gum or taste a sour candy. If you are feeling stuck, imagine what your favorite flavor or meal tastes like.
Take a few slow, deep belly breaths to end.