We talked about stress and mindfulness at today’s workshop. I used to think I didn’t really suffer from any stress in these last few years. Now I’m saying, are you kidding me?!

Stress is sneaky. Sometimes it comes without a name or a description. Sometimes it’s atypical, non-traditional. You can get stressed about anything. There’s the usual things, like money, work, family dynamics. But you can also stress over good times: weddings, vacations, holidays, parties, promotions.

It’s kinda like, all the things 21 Pilots sing about in that song are true. Simply being an adult is stressful. With ADD, keeping track of items (how many times have I lost my glasses, keys) and events feeds an undercurrent of ongoing stress.

With my basically hardwired anxiety, I’m probably never not stressed out. I’ve never learned how to relax or decompress. I live life in a constant state of…clench.

Anyway, there’s research to support a connection between stress and sugary, fatty foods. People under a lot of stress are apt to gravitate more toward those foods than chiller people. Hmmmm…

So we learned a mindfulness technique, 5-4-3-2-1.

  • 5: Find 5 things you can see.
  • 4: Find 4 things you can feel. This could be how your hair sits on your shoulder, how your clothes brush your skin, your elbow on the arm rest, etc.
  • 3: Identify 3 sounds you can hear.
  • 2: Identify 2 things you smell.
  • 1: Recall the last thing you tasted.

Sorry, I didn’t think to ask what happens with this exercise when one or more of your senses are compromised. Like, does a blind person just skip Step 5? A deaf person skip Step 3? I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine so. The other steps could still be useful.

The point of the activity is to get you in the moment, to practice mindfulness. I think, if I can remember to, I will try this in potential moments of weakness. Or maybe even just any time.

I see:

  1. My cat
  2. Aislyn
  3. The TV
  4. The armchair
  5. A book

I feel:

  1. An itch on my neck
  2. The yarn on my slipper touching the back of my knee
  3. The fabric of the couch touching my calf
  4. My finger on my lip

I hear:

  1. StoryBots on the TV
  2. A door closing
  3. The electric skillet sizzling

I smell:

  1. Dinner cooking
  2. Nothing else

I taste:

  1. My flavored water

Do I feel any different? Yup. I forgot about how hungry I was while focusing on this activity. I don’t know if that was the point, but it certainly kept me out of the kitchen before dinner.

I will have to remember to keep practicing it. I’ve always thought I would benefit from meditation, too. I wonder if they have meditation podcasts…

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