Written by Wise Minds' favorite intern, Rheanna Woodford:
Friend, the friend who is reading this. I want you to pause for a moment, and take in your surroundings. Be present in the moment with your environment. I want you to find five things you can see, four things you can feel, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. Take a moment to appreciate each physical or non-physical object that came into your awareness once you paused for that moment. In times of stress, anxiety, and feelings of unwanted emotions, using this coping technique can reduce the negative emotions and refocuses your attention back to the present moment.
This technique can be used at any time and place, and can be used by students, parents, teachers, and other working professionals in the field. For example, when you start to feel anxious about all of the work you have to get done that day, it may be helpful to take a few moments to center ourselves in the present, which will potentially make us more productive throughout the day. Another example is when you are upset or overwhelmed by an individual or a situation, you can quietly remove yourself from your negative emotions by paying attention to your environment. We could notice the sound of a water faucet dripping in the background, the beautiful architecture of the building you enter every day, smell the flowers and freshly cut grass on a spring day, or taste the different flavors that are in your meal that you never paid attention to before. All of these things may be overlooked if we are not paying attention.
Personally, for me, mindfulness has become an important part of my life. I may be walking down the road one day, and something will catch my eye. Maybe a leaf that floated by, the trees swaying, or birds chirping. Something will catch my attention, and I pause, take a deep breath, and reconnect to my inner calmness.
We always want to perform to the best of our ability, but sometimes our life consists of one stressful moment after another. When we are stressed, we do not put our 110% into our task because we have 4,732 other things to be thinking and worrying about. This grounding technique may assist in redirecting your scattered thoughts and emotions, and bringing your full awareness back into the present. By bringing our awareness back into the present, we can focus back on our task with our undivided attention, and therefore, be able to perform the task more efficiently and effectively.
It may be hard for people to pause, even for a moment a day. We tend to think, “I don't have time to pause in my day! I still have to do this and this and this and this and this and this and this!” We live in a society where we are praised the more we accomplish, and sometimes we lose the idea of working to better ourselves. But by learning to calm and center ourselves during the day, we may find ourselves becoming more productive, more efficient, more committed, and more content with our daily lives. The situations and people that once stressed us out can be turned into an opportunity to practice noticing our thoughts without judgement, and later down the road, practicing compassion and acceptance of these individuals or events.