It’s easy to get distracted and disconnected this time of year.
You have multiple lists of things to-do, gifts to pick up, and errands to run. Your normal routine is still in place but you have 50 extra things to add on to your already busy schedule.
Your anxiety is high trying to manage everything; it’s like juggling five balls at once. You are trying to make sure your family is cared for and has the best holiday and New Year possible.
You are often in last place on your to-do list. Self-care feels like something from your distant past.
Now is not the time to add on a complex self-care routine that will feel more like a chore. But something needs to change to help you feel more present, manage your mood and actually relax enough to enjoy this time of year!
Let’s try a simple and easy way to improve your mood!
A huge part of regulating your emotions (from anxiety to anger to sadness) comes from your five senses (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste).
Soothing your senses will help you shift your mood away from uncomfortable or ineffective emotions to a mood that will help you manage your stress and extra responsibilities this time of year.
When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy find ways to soothe your senses:
Sight: Surround yourself with images and items that are appealing, attractive and comforting. It can be something small, like looking at photos in your phone, or hanging up a picture of your favorite vacation destination at work.
Smell: Identifying smells that bring positive memories and emotions – maybe the smell of baked goods, pine branches, or certain flowers. Keep those items around (or have a Scentsy air freshener going) to keep the smells enjoyable.
Touch: Now’s the time to put on your favorite sweater or scarf and feel it cozy on your skin.
Taste: Splurge on a tasty treat that you enjoy – perhaps a piece of dark chocolate, go out to your favorite meal for lunch, or grab a fancy coffee drink.
Sound: Putting on your favorite music can snap you into a positive mood. Find something soothing and enjoyable.
If you want to take it to the next level, try soothing your senses while connecting with nature.
Here is a fun article about helping children connect with nature. While this article focuses on kids, I think it’s just as applicable for adults to use too! Let’s try the Five Senses Wildlife Hunt.
We are lucky to live in the Sacramento Area which has amazing and vibrant seasons, and yet is still moderate enough that you can head out doors for a stroll in winter. One of my favorite places is the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. This tiny gem is easily accessible from Gold River, Fair Oaks and Carmichael, has a three-mile dirt trail following the river, and is home to an abundance of wildlife. It’s hard to walk the trail without seeing deer, turkey, coyote and woodpeckers.
So here’s your mood-improving challenge:
Go on a five-minute outdoor walk today.
Easy right? Focus on your five senses for five minutes:
Feel the air, wind, or rain on your skin
Hold a leaf and feel the different textures
Notice the smells around you; fill your lungs with fresh air
Watch all the movement in everything around you, small and large
Observe the trees bowing in the wind
Watch beetles running under a rock
Pay attention to the squirrels searching for nuts for winter
Notice the multitude of colors in the trees
Watch the changing colors in the sky and the movements of the clouds
Feel the texture of bark on the trees
And if you’re really daring, taste a raindrop on your tongue!
Connect with being fully and authentically present in the moment.
I’d love to hear how you connect with nature or about your mindfulness practice. Share with me in the comments or send me an email at email@example.com.
Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who provides counseling to people healing from trauma and abuse, and those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.