Though I do my best to start each morning off slowly and peacefully with some quiet prayer and Bible reading, once the day gets going things speed up. I often find myself swept into a steady stream of activity as I bustle from one project, conversation, or responsibility to the next. By mid-afternoon, I can start to feel tense, like a wind-up toy that’s had its spring turned a few too many times.
I’ve found that making space in my day to slow down for a few minutes can go a long ways toward helping me reset, relax, and regain a sense of enjoyment in my day. I know this is especially hard to do on busy days, yet that’s really when we need it the most! If we want to find joy in everyday life and bring our best selves to our most important goals, dreams, and relationships, taking care of ourselves and making time for little breaks is vital.
One of my favorite ways to slow down and refresh my mind and body is a little exercise I call 5 Things. This simple relaxation tool only takes a few minutes, so you can practice it on even your busiest days
Here’s how you do it.
Find somewhere to sit down for 5 minutes. (You can also do this while walking or standing but it works best if you’re sitting.)
Place your feet on the ground and relax your body. Then ask yourself these five questions:
What can I see?
What can I hear?
What can I touch or feel?
What can I smell?
What can I taste?
Take your time and really hone in on each sense. Try to identify as many things for each sense as you can. Aim for at least 5 things for your sense of sight, hearing, and touch/feeling, and one or two for smell and taste.
Do your best to slow your breathing and just be in the moment.
The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere—in your bedroom, in your office, in the checkout line at the grocery store. Of course, finding a beautiful or more inherently relaxing place to do it is helpful. My favorite place to do this is outside on my front porch or while sitting in the woods.
Here’s an example of what I saw/heard/felt/smelled/tasted recently while doing this exercise:
I sat on a log in the woods.
I saw: The sun dappled forest floor. The grass gently swaying in the breeze. A sherbet colored amanita mushroom and its white spackled top. Yellow leaves fluttering from the trees. Shimmering spider webs. Neon orange bunch berries and shiny red cranberries. Moss and lichens clinging to birch trunks.
I heard: The cry of a woodpecker. The rustle of wind in leaves. The chatter of chickadees. The roar of distant equipment. The plop of leaves hitting the forest floor. My own breath.
I felt: Cool air on my cheeks and fingers. Warm sun on my knees. The round, smooth bodies of high bush cranberries rolling between my fingers. The soft mat of decaying leaves and plant matter beneath my rubber boots. The powdery, papery feel of birch bark.
I smelled: cranberries and earth.
I tasted: the bitter tang of cranberries.
As we intentionally notice what’s around us, we redirect our focus from our internal dialogue to our external surroundings. Getting away from our mental chatter and our endless thoughts about the past, the future, and all we have to do and just being present in the moment can really help us relax.
Whenever I do this exercise, I can feel my body calming almost instantly.
I hope you find it helpful too!
I want to hear from you!
What tricks or rituals do you have that help you relax and/or calm down? I’d love to hear about it!? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
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