Sunday 10 May 2020

... the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique

I recently came across the '5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety' (I think an ad popped up somewhere for someone selling charm bracelets that you could use as a reminder of the things on the list). It's basically a sensory awareness grounding exercise that can help to shift your focus to the 'here and now' and away from anxious thoughts. You do it by stopping to acknowledge...

  • FIVE things you see around you.
  • FOUR things you can touch around you. 
  • THREE things you hear. 
  • TWO things you can smell. 
  • ONE thing you can taste.

I haven't yet remembered to use this in the moments when I'm feeling really panicky (usually after the weekly shopping trip or late at night after reading too many newspaper articles), but thought it might be fun to try and cement it into my brain in this catch-up post for April into May...

Five things I've seen:

A sea of bluebells in the woods during a sunny lunch-time walk.
Dandelion clocks in the front garden. I know this is a weed-fest waiting to happen, but they looked absolutely beautiful in that moment.
Like mother, like son - my eldest's cheerfully overgrown front garden when we dropped off some home-baked banana muffins and choc-chip cookies for him last week. I had a little cry in the car on the way home because I really wanted to hug him, but couldn't.
A perfect peaches and cream tulip in a flower-bed along the road.
The serendipitous juxtaposition of a pretty pansy amid the forget-me-nots that have self seeded into a big blue ceramic pot.

Four things I've touched:

Well, hand-made actually! A little felted dragonfly brooch for my sister's birthday.
Masks, masks, and more masks. For friends, family and colleagues. I made three for my sister's best friend, who does shelf-stacking in a supermarket and has been having panic attacks due to lack of PPE provision by his employer and the thoughtless behaviour of customers shoving past him. He's been wearing scarves tied round his face and feeling really self-conscious, so these washable cotton masks are a lot more practical and comfortable for him.  He sent me a text saying that they had made his life "a 100 times better" - which made me cry again.

A painted pebble (picked up from the beach at Seahouses, so extra special) with a portrait of the semi-tame blackbird - "Charlie" - who lives in my Mum and Dad's garden.
A denim feather brooch. Middle-of-the-night-Pinterest-browsing (also recommended for keeping anxious thoughts at bay) led me down the rabbit-hole of recycled denim - bags, rugs, aprons, pot-holders, storage baskets, tassels...and feathers...are among the many things you can make from a pair of worn out jeans. So top right below a photo of some of the feathers I made (including a tiny "budgie" feather from some spotted cotton - it works with any woven fabric)...and a couple of photos of the brooch I subsequently made after thinking, "Okay, so I've made some feathers, now what?" I whiled away several happy hours yesterday, and re-purposed at least 2 square inches of denim in the process. Waste not, want not!
Three things I've heard:

Birdsong - from dawn til dusk. Here are a couple of robins chirping and chatting over a bit of suet-cake in my Mum and Dad's garden...
...and here's Charlie and his mate gathering mealworms a little while later. Blackbirds are so expressive and melodic in their singing.

I've had this CD on non-stop repeat whilst I've been making and sewing in my craft-room. I really love everything I've ever heard by these silver-tongued sisters! 
I don't have a photo for it, but I've also been listening to the free-to-use version of Spotify (just so I don't wear out the First Aid Kit CD collection through over-use). I have a playlist of about 100 favourite songs which I shuffle-play through my phone - the intermittent ads don't bother me too much and it's nice to lose myself in a few "blasts from the past".

Two things I've smelled:

Both in bloom at the moment, and my favourite scents out of any/all perfumes - lilac and lily-of-the-valley. I don't like picking flowers, but I couldn't resist picking a couple of sprigs for this little bud vase on my workdesk. Absolutely heavenly.
One thing I've tasted:

(This could also count as a smell). My daughter's baking. Since we've been in lockdown she's been trying out a few different recipes (favourites being banana muffins and chocolate-chip cookies), so we now have a supply of home-baked treats available throughout the week. She has started keeping the cookie dough in the fridge and making batches of just three cookies at a time so that we can always enjoy them "fresh out of the oven" and yet still have a chance of fitting back into our non-lockdown clothes one day.