I am interrupting this series to share something awesome from Facebook group Healing Path to Complex PTSD Recovery
You can ask to join this group and they will ask you some questions to consider if it is a good fit. I enjoy the group.
Matt is one of the semi-retired admins that still plays a great part sharing ideas and reminding members that we are all healing and deserve respect. He gave me permission to share what he wrote…I guess this would be considered a guest post.
Grounding to senses by Matt Smith
Starting today, I’m going to do my best to have a MINDFUL MONDAY post, which will include tools, tips and exercises to help keep us moving forward. And don’t forget to comment on the MAGNIFICENT MONDAY to share your goals for the week.
To start us off, I wanted to share something that I came up with to add to your Mindfulness Toolbox — SENSE CANDY
Find a few small containers that you can see into with a screw-on lid. Some medicine bottles will work in a pinch until you can find some clear containers. Next, grab a bag of Jelly Bellys, or other small, strongly-scented candy. Separate the colors & flavors and put just a few of each into the containers, as well as one with a mix of colors. The photo below shows the bottles completely full. You want them to be no more than half full.
You can also do this with various spices, but it won’t be as effective, as it will only use four, instead of five, senses. And there is a danger of inhaling some of the spices, which may irritate your nose or sinuses (esp if you use cayenne).
The purpose of the screw-on lids is that many times when we are in an anxious state, we need something NOW, NOW, NOW and it can be difficult to control our fine motor skills, which are needed to pop a lid off of a container without spilling the contents. A screw-on lid gives us something to grip and perform a controlled action (I know, it seems contrary to what I just said).
The candy-in-a-jar gives activates all five senses to help during during an anxious episode. First, it makes noise. As soon as you move it, it makes noise. It rattles. This helps with auditory sensoritization. If you are using something like a pill bottle, you can shake it or you can simply rock it back and forth like a miniature rain stick. If you have a LARGE pill bottle or tube that will fit into your toolbox, you can even use some small gravel to create such a rain stick.
Second, it stimulates our visual cortex. As you move the container back and forth, shaking it, or even just picking it up, your eyes will see something slightly different each time. You can also set all of the containers in a slightly-arced pattern in front of you to allow you to move your eyes and your head to focus on each of the colors.
Third, when you are able to open the containers, one by one, you will smell the sweetness and each of the flavors. This, and the fifth step, allows the use of the olfactory senses. Open the container and put it under your nose. Without doing anything else, let the smell just woft under your nose. Now, inhale so that the smell gets into your nose.
Fourth, take one piece of candy out of the container. Rub it between your fingers and pay attention to the texture. Is it smooth or is it slightly rough? As you mindfully focus on this aspect of what you are holding, allow the nerves in your fingertips to become more sensitive. It most likely won’t happen the first time, so don’t get distracted by this if you don’t all of a sudden feel something like 300-grit sandpaper or a piece of glass between your fingers. This takes practice, just like anything else.
And finally, and place it into your mouth and put the container down. This also uses the taste buds as part of the olfactory senses. Don’t chew it or bite it. Just let it stay on your tongue while you focus on the flavor. Suck on it a little so that the flavor starts getting around your mouth. Notice where you actually feel/taste the flavor on your tongue. And then slowly chew the piece of candy. Feel the texture under the outer covering. Focus on the gelatin and the different textures mixing together.
Once the candy has dissolved, move backward through the steps, from smelling to looking to hearing. Take your time and try and stay focused while you go through each of the steps. And then take a deep cleansing breath. From start to finish, this should take around five full minutes. Of course, you can go through each of the steps quickly. But the goal is to focus on each of the senses.
My body is the one freaking out due to my mind overwhelmed….I think it is amazing that we can use our bodies to help calm our minds.