As we are coming to the end of semester: finishing assignments, catching up on lectures, studying for the exam period and such, it’s too easy to push mindfulness to the side in order to “keep pushing” in hopes of getting more work done. We know it’s not always and often actually not as simple as that.
I want to mention some calming techniques of mindfulness and what works for us, so we can keep them in our back pocket, for easy practice to reconnect with the present moment and hopefully limit our stress.
In short, mindfulness practises consist of pausing in the moment and sitting in the space (B) that lay in between an unpleasant experience (A) and our response (C) to try to change C into a conscious response, instead of one which is automatic and possibly unwanted.
You may have heard of the ‘54321 senses’ activity. If not I will quickly sum up the method.
When appropriate, pause to take a moment and shift focus on your 5 senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Start with the thought “what are” and go through the following dot points all about our five senses- explained here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/z9yycdm/articles/zxy987h
- 5 different things you can see (sight),
- 4 things you can hear (sound)
- 3 things you feel (touch),
- 2 things you can smell,
- 1 thing if possible that you can taste.
Going through the list of senses we physically experience is used as a means to “anchor” your focus on your surroundings, to the present moment, and thus limiting being caught in the past or future, and on a bigger picture scale lessening the symptoms of depression and anxiety often caused by stress.
This is a great mindfulness tool to metaphorically pop in your back pocket and use anytime, anywhere. It also happens to be both of our Welfare Officer’s favourite grounding technique- I think that says something in itself, but I am likely biased being one of said Welfare Officers.
The method and benefits can be explained further here: https://insighttimer.com/blog/54321-grounding-technique/
Switching gears slightly, I want to touch on the data that has been well documented of the positive benefits of the colour blue. It is recorded to evoke feelings of calmness, serenity, and even increasing productivity in workers. Offices are said to be often painted using this colour for this very reason! More about the colour blue and colour psychology can be found here:
So after learning the benefits from these two sources, I was wondering how one could incorporate them together to tap into the benefits of both, “two birds one stone” style. How can we integrate the psycho-physiological visual processing benefits of the colour blue with our favourite mindfulness exercises?
Say you enjoy the ‘54321 senses’ exercise as explained, and as I do, pick out a small “something blue” to carry with you, specifically a blue item that fits easily into your pocket, purse, bag etc. This “something blue” could be a blue scarf, a blue handkerchief, a blue scrunchie, a blue pom pom on your keyring, and so on. Let’s literally pop this object in your back pocket to have a stress-reducing activity with you on the go.
Boom, the busyness of our demanding lives happens and stress starts to rise. Now is when you take out your item and start the ‘54321 senses’ activity, but with a direct focus on this one blue object.
– As the object is blue, take in it’s colour visually (sight). Observe the shadows cast which reveals the texture, notice the richness of the pigment, the pattern on the material etc.
– Squish the item, tap on it or tap it on another surface, rub the material together if possible and listen to what sound it makes.
– Feel (touch) the texture, is there a temperature you can sense, a hard or softness to the item?
– Take a moment to smell the item; try to discern what individual scents make up the scent as a whole. Is the scent soft, strong, mixed?
With only one object we can run through a condensed version of the ‘54321 senses’ practice in combination with a focus on observing a blue coloured, calm-inducing item.
Would this actually be more impactful than exploring one of those known benefits singularly?
If we can combat feelings of stress with scientifically backed activities, why not bring an easy, compact “something blue” with us and test it for ourselves in our day to day life?
Reach out to us below and let us know what combination of mindfulness and colour therapy you want to try!
Author: Sophia Ellacott