With grief, you might experience overwhelming feelings of intense sadness, anger or frustration. These feelings may result in sudden tearful episodes that prevent you from functioning normally in day-to-day life. Although you might feel as if these emotions are uncontrollable, there are numerous techniques you can use to help you regain control. Certain techniques may not work as well for some as they do for others, but you will never know what is helpful until you give it a try! Today, we are exploring the Five Senses Technique.
The Five Senses Technique, otherwise known as the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique, is often used by individuals living with anxiety– when an anxious person is feeling bombarded by the stress of life, it is suggested for that person to find soothing things to see, feel, hear, smell and taste. The same technique works for a bereaved person who becomes suddenly overwhelmed by grief.
If you begin having an emotional episode and need to regain control, try following the steps of this technique:
Find five comforting things you can physically see–
Scan your surroundings for objects or people that bring you great joy. Find anything from artwork to children or friends in order to switch your focus. Concentrate on them and count each happy thing you see. When you have successfully found and concentrated on five different objects or people, you can move on to the next step.
Find four things that are soothing to feel–
Take a moment to slowly stroke your cat or dog, your baby’s soft face, a fleece sweatshirt or blanket. Analyze what that feels like to you. Think to yourself how you might put that feeling into words: Is it fluffy? Smooth? Warm? Cool? After you have fully analyzed four comforting feelings, you can move on to the sounds surrounding you.
Listen for three calming things you can hear–
Whether a favorite song, a friend’s voice, or the drone of a lawn mower, take the time to listen to something that you have connected positive thoughts to. If you are having trouble finding anything, consider this: We often disregard some of the most gentle sounds that happen on a daily basis. Pay close attention to the ticking of the clock or the spining of a ceiling fan. Once you have found comfort in three different sounds, you can follow the next step.
Find two things you can smell–
Inhale slowly any stimulating scent, from perfume to cookies baking or freshly mowed grass. Take your time while breathing in the scents. Think of happy memories with which you associate these distinct aromas. Take several slow, deep breaths until you feel completely at peace.
Seek out one delicious thing you can taste–
Try a small snack, a cup of coffee or tea, or even a cough-drop. Put something both tasty and soothing on your tongue and savor it. While you eat or drink, think about the various flavors you taste. After you have focused on a satisfying taste of your choice, take a moment to reflect on the people, objects, sights and scents around you.
If you fully immerse yourself in this technique, you will have no choice but to be present in the moment. Rather than dwelling on thoughts, emotions or anxieties, this exercise redirects your focus for you to realize the blessings surrounding you. It is absolutely crucial to remember all that you do have during a time of loss.
If you are having an especially difficult day, try out the Five Senses Technique, and let us know if it helps. Wishing you the best!
Please visit our Grief Support Resources page for grief counseling and support options.