✫ How mindfulness helped me today (“5,4,3,2,1.” exercise) ✫

I have always been a very prompt person.  Usually, I show up to appointments ten to fifteen minutes early.  In extreme cases, I allow myself to arrive at an event five minutes late.  My promptness has never been a problem in my professional life, but it does affect my personal relationships on occasion.  With the need to be exactly on time comes the need to have all get togethers scheduled at least a day beforehand so that I am able to prepare.  I like to have a loose idea of what will be going on (as most people do) so that I don’t make any other plans.  However, with close friends and family, this can be a great burden, as not everyone is so rigid as I am in these aspects.  Last night, my boyfriend of one month and I agreed to hang out today.  We talked about how we could cook a dish of some sort together for the first time.  I went to sleep peacefully because I knew for sure that I would be seeing him.  This morning, excepting a hello, I heard nothing from him.  I was sure that it was fine, as he has a small job watching a dog that often takes up some of his time.  However, as midday rolled around and the afternoon progressed, I had yet to hear any news from him.  This was strange to me, and I wondered if he was upset with me.  Having been too tied down and attached in previous relationships, I decided to loosen up and go clothes shopping.  I received a call from him on the way to the store, and he apologized for not texting me more frequently.  I couldn’t help wondering if he had forgotten about our plans, which rattled me a bit.  Later at night, I texted him (after sending him a long stream of annoying messages) asking if he was upset with me.  He quickly responded and said no. In fact, he was at his D&D group with his friends.  Though I was glad to hear that he was okay and not upset with me, I did become distressed by the fact that he had chosen to go out with his friends instead of hang out with me (after we had discussed meeting up).  At this point, you might be asking, “How does mindfulness tie into this?”  Well, after wracking up tons of anxiety about a change of plans, I was having a hard time calming down.  For those of you who know, small worries can turn into “He doesn’t love me anymore,” and “He’ll find out who I really am soon enough and hate me” in an instant.  At this point (after crying quite a lot), I remembered the mindfulness skills that my therapist, Felicia, had taught me.  I decided to not interact with my worries for a moment and do an exercise called “5,4,3,2,1.”  The cool thing about this exercise is that you can do it anywhere at any time.  All you have to do is name five things you see, four things you hear, three things you smell, two things you taste, and one thing you touch.  It doesn’t matter what order you do it in, just make sure that you are including all five senses.  Taking the time to think about each of these things is sure to slow your breathing and to ground you in the present moment.  After doing this exercise I felt much more relaxed, and was able to look at my worries and analyze them without interacting with them on a personal level.  This helped me to calm down.  I’m definitely going to do it again before I fall asleep tonight.

– Sophie

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