5 Weeks, 5 Ways to Share: Tune Into Your 5 Senses

One in five people will experience mental health challenges in their lives. For Mental Health Awareness Month this May, we’re presenting five topics — one per week — to discuss and share.

NAMI Westside LA’s Mental Health Awareness Month Challenge for Week 5: Focus on your five senses.

You might be familiar with the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique recommended for those grappling with anxiety: Pause to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. (NAMI’s website has more info, along with more coping strategies for managing stress.)

Pausing to observe our senses is good practice for any time. In other words, you don’t have to wait to feel anxious. How about taking 5 minutes to reflect on 5 things you love to see, touch, hear, smell and taste? How about taking 5 minutes any time to observe how you’re feeling and how your senses are being stimulated?

Plan your “take 5 time” by setting a daily alarm or reminder, or consider pausing when you notice one of your senses being stimulated — when you see the jacaranda tree on your block suddenly in full bloom, when the smell of the sauce simmering on the stove fills the room, when you hear the kids giggling outside, when you button up a new shirt, when you take a bite of a friend’s birthday cake. Observing the here and now is a mindful practice that both grounds us and helps us to feel grateful.