Okay. I am about to feel incredibly silly for writing this all out, as I have not completely become confident in sharing and living it yet, BUT… this is an act of holding myself accountable. Continue on I can and will.
In my ongoing journeys of post-partum anxiety, post-partum depression and post-partum “what the fresh hell has happened to my life” I have been seeing a counselor and attempting to heal. Born anew I do not expect to be, but eventually finding again the harmony, security and joy to what I once lived is a hope of mine.
So, how I am being instructed to go about doing that is through the act of mindfulness.
There are many interpretations of mindfulness out there, but I personally like this one best: an embracing of awareness in the presence, and cultivating that awareness with kindness and curiosity.
I’m not always the greatest at practicing mindfulness (even though I talk about its teachings often in my career), but I am thankful for what changes it has made thus far in my struggles and the potentials it has in helping me. It helps my brain stop when nothing else can, it grounds me and it allows me to embrace the here and now.
And there is one particular mindfulness strategy I have found to be invaluable to me thus far, and it is known as 5 4 3 2 1.
After taking some purposeful, deep breaths, here is what it asks of those who practice it to do:
- Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you.
- Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you.
- Acknowledge THREE things you hear.
- Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.
- Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.
(The above can be rearranged if a particular sense is much more abundant than the rest).
I have come to embrace this strategy as it takes me out of my head. It stops the thoughts. It returns me to the physical and lets me simply be. In a world of anxiety and depression that is nothing but a warzone of emotions and panic, it is a lifesaver.
The super nerdy, I’m embarrassed to admit part: recently, in a hope that it better helps and reminds me to practice 5 4 3 2 1, I put together a mindfulness kit for myself to let me have one of every sense readily available to me. The items I choose were ones that particularly spoke to me and bring within me a great sense of peace. My kit now goes everywhere I go, and it looks a little like this:
- See: pictures of heavily forested landscapes
- Touch: aventurine worry stone
- Hear: “zen” chime
- Smell: essential oils (lavender and orange in particular)
- Taste: yes, that is a mint tin, but there are totally green jolly ranchers inside of it. :>
And it all else fails, a deck of mindfulness cards with other exercises to try if needed.
So, long story short, if you see or hear of me peddling around a chime, staring at trees and smelling heavily of lavender/hippie fabulousness, I haven’t quite lost it. Yet! Rather, I am taking a moment to return to where I need to be. Please be patient with me, as I might not always get there, but I’m trying.