How Focus Transforms Anxiety – Part 2
In the last article, we talked about the value of Focusing inward to change our experience of anxiety. Most people who feel anxious – increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headache, nausea, [the list goes on]; often accompanied by a sense of dread – tell themselves there is something wrong with them. They instantly judge themselves for having these feelings. They shouldn’t be like this. Normal people aren’t such “babies.” So they do the best they can to suppress it instead of being kind to themselves. That’s why I gave you an approach last time to allow the feelings instead of fighting them or judging yourself.
A different and another effective approach is to focus externally. Instead of concentrating on what’s wrong with you and the discomfort you’re feeling, look outside and pay attention to something that catches your attention in your environment. It can be something ordinary, but for whatever reason caught your eye.
Go for a walk in your usual area and notice things you haven’t seen before. Take notes on your phone. Every time you do this there’s always something you haven’t paid attention to before. This is true in your place of work and your home. Interestingly, there’s research that shows that people who wanted to lose weight, who followed this practice daily lost more weight than others in their group who didn’t.
Move your attention to a work project or hobby where you can make strides towards completion.
Speak to a friend and help them with something they’re working on.
Here’s a an easy to remember technique that invites you to use your 5 senses.
Notice 5 things you SEE around you. It could be a pillow, a picture on the wall, a cup, a mark on the carpet, anything you can see and observe something about it to yourself.
Touch and feel 5 things around you – your coffee mug, the kitchen faucet, your soap, the wall, feel the floor with your bare feet. What did you feel?
Listen to 5 things you hear – the air conditioner fan, water running, the microwave, other people nearby talking, a door closing. These can be any external sound.
Now sniff out 5 things you can smell – maybe you’re in your office and the coffee machine is perking, or you can smell the flowers in the vase on the receptionist’s desk, If you’re home, maybe you can smell the shampoo in the shower stall, or your favorite cologne on the dresser in your bedroom. Or you might go outside and smell fresh mowed grass.
And now 5 five things you could taste – gum, a bite of toast, the jelly you put on the toast, a spearmint leaf, a sip of coffee.
This 5 senses exercise is grounding. It brings you into the moment with focus on things you recognize outside of yourself. Simple tasks like these are reminders of our relationship to the world. People feel relief from internal whirring while doing the simple assignments.
Want to try it? I’d love to hear how you did with it and what things you found yourself paying attention to. It’s fun.
Most people have told me they experience an almost immediate positive difference.
Wishing you less stress and more of what you want in your life.