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Well-being top tip as we head into extended lockdown

Celia Dean, Clinical Psychologist at Kids Matter, shares a simple exercise to help manage any anxiety or frustration you might be feeling as we head into week 5 of lockdown…

Here is a well-being top tip as we start the next 3 weeks of lockdown! The news this week is all about how we need to look after ourselves not only our physical well-being but our mental health during this crisis. So I thought I’d share this very simple and quick exercise to try when you feel a rising sense of anxiety or worry.

It’s called 54321 grounding. Some of you might be familiar with the technique. The idea is to avert your attention away from what is stressing you and focus in on your physical environment to help calm your fear centre in the brain, the amygdala. It won’t magically make all our worries disappear but with a more balanced mind we can approach those challenges with a calmer awareness. Put simply, the brain simply works better when it’s relaxed.

First, take a moment to become mindful of your breath. Just a few deep breaths invite your body back into the moment, slowing everything down. Then, become aware of your environment.

Look For 5 Things You Can See: Notice the reflection on the window in your bedroom. Or the  print on the back of your fingers. Hone in on the photograph/picture hanging on your wall; the one you walk past daily but barely notice. Take your time to really look and recognise what you see.
Become Aware Of 4 Things You Can Touch: The textured skin of an orange in the fruit bowl, or the fuzzy roughness of kiwi skin. Touch the wall – is it smooth or bumpy? Run your hand over the cotton duvet on your bed. Spend a minute literally touching these things, concentrating on how they feel against your skin – the distinct sensation.
Acknowledge 3 Things You Can Hear: Close your eyes and just listen. What do you hear? The sound of the wind in the trees. Cars zooming down the road. Sirens. The clink of cutlery. The sound of the kettle boiling. Water running in the bathroom. Voices. Also pay attention to the space between sounds.
Notice 2 Things You Can Smell: If you find it difficult to articulate a scent in the air around you, try smelling your own skin, or your hair. Open a window and breathe in the air outside, focusing on difference smells.
Become Aware Of 1 Thing You Can Taste: Have you just brushed your teeth? – Can you taste the minty coolness of the toothpaste you used? Or the residue bitterness of the coffee you had with your breakfast cereal this morning?

Repeat this process as many times as necessary. Take your time and notice how you feel afterwards. Remember a calm mind is an effective mind – enjoy!

If you’d like to find out more about Kids Matter or would like to get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at info@kidsmatter.org.uk. And for more on our IMPACT, click here.

Photo by Georgina Vigliecca on Unsplash

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