Dealing with stress and anxiety: Using mindfulness and your 5 senses in 5 minutes


Social media can be a great tool to keep in touch with friends and loved ones but at times can bring a lot of contention and stress. Recently, a post was shared by the Franklin County Ky Health Department which offered great advice on control. It simply offered two options; what I can control and what I can’t control. I can control my kindness, my own vaccination status, sharing factual information, my own social distancing, wearing a mask and how I protect myself from others. I can not control, if others social distance, if others are wearing a mask, other people’s motives, where people travel, if others get vaccinated, how long this will last and how much misinformation others spread. Lack of control can lead to added stress and anxiety.

Jay Shetty, a former monk, offers advice to people who experience stress and anxiety. He recommends that people build time for mindful moments. To be in the moment and confront anxiety-ridden thoughts, he challenges people to sit, be still, and to notice things in their immediate surroundings.

Using your five senses can help you practice mindfulness, and it does not have to take long. With practice, you can be mindful in as little as five minutes, according to author and practitioner, Katherine Hurst. To begin, find a quiet space where you can be alone. Sit in an upright, comfortable position with your hands on your thighs.

The exercise starts by taking deep breaths, in and out. As you breathe, notice the sounds around you. In the beginning, you may hear obvious sounds such as traffic or people talking in the background. But as you really listen, you will begin to hear new things like the breeze or the silence. Switch your attention to smell. Like with sound, the goal is not to judge smells as good or bad — the idea is to notice what is out there. You can even light a scented candle to help you focus on this sense. Taste and smell go hand in hand. How does your tongue feel? What taste lingers in your mouth? Run your tongue inside your teeth or cheeks to stimulate this sense. Some people meditate with their eyes closed. For sight, however, open your eyes and think about what you see — the colors (or lack thereof), shapes, textures, etc. Finally, turn your attention to touch. How do your hands feel on your legs? What do your clothes feel like against your skin? How are you sitting? Where does your body feel tense? In what position does it feel relaxed?

Other ways to be in the present include embracing nature, whether that is a walk in the woods or around your neighborhood or just sitting on your patio and taking in the experience through your senses.

For more food safety information, contact the Meade County Extension office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

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