What is the activity and why are we doing it?
There are times when we are feeling stress, and we might like a change of scenery in order to calm ourselves, or shift into a different way of feeling. It may be hard for us to physically change where we are, but here is an activity that you can try in your home, or even outside if possible. You will use all 5 senses as a tool to calm your body and mind. Adults and older children can use this tool with themselves and coaching younger children.
What do we need?
- Adults/older children: if you are outside or inside, find a space where you can sit safely and comfortably for about five minutes. You may try to time yourself for one full minute for each of the 5 senses in the activity. You may also spend as long as you need on each of the steps!
- For adults coaching younger children: if you are outside or inside, find a space where your child can safely sit for a few minutes, and they can also explore safely (with supervision). Have them sit cross-legged. If you are outside, sitting on a blanket is helpful. Younger children may need to do each step for only 30 seconds (or less!) You may also spend as long as you need on each of the steps!
- A blanket or chair to sit on
- A quiet timer (egg timer / watch timer / phone timer)
- You can do this activity without any materials at all. You may count in your head, or move through each step for as long as you want to. Some people prefer the structure of a timed activity, others do not!
- Close your eyes, or lower them to the ground, and sit quietly.
- Listen to the sounds that are happening in the space around you.
- Let your focus move to each sound, and stay with each sound for a moment.
- Sit and listen for one full minute.
- If you are doing this activity with a child, you may choose to try to identify the sounds, and talk about what you heard before you move on.
- Reset the timer.
- Sitting in one spot, and without talking, look around the space. Up, down, all around. You may choose to shift in your seat /on the ground in order to look all around you, or look closer at certain things.
- Let your focus go to each thing that you want to look at. Look at its color, shape, size, texture, before you move on.
- If you are doing this activity with a child, you may choose to identify and describe items that you each saw. Ask the child: what did you see? What color was it? What can you tell me about that item?
- Adults/older children: make sure that you are careful to avoid inhaling something that could cause allergies!
- Reset the timer.
- With your eyes open, or closed, sit and inhale deeply. What does the air smell like where you are?
- If it is safe to do so, pick one or two items to inspect more closely. For example, you may have an orange next to you, or a blade of grass. Get close to it.
- If you are doing this activity with a child ask them: what does it smell like?
- Adults: coach children to avoid touching a person or an animal without consent or supervision. If a person agrees to being touched, make sure you are clear about boundaries and coach them to ask, “May I touch your hair?”
- Identify one thing nearby that you would like to touch. You may get up from where you are seated in order to pick up/touch an item.
- Reset the timer.
- Let your fingers explore the object. Try this with your eyes closed and open.
- Try to choose an item that you previously looked at or listened to! (Like that orange next to you, or that blade of grass). Try to choose an object that is not a living creature.
- If you are doing this activity with a child ask them: What does the object feel like? What is the texture? Temperature? Firmness? Does it feel different when your eyes are closed?
- Adults/older children: coach younger children to only taste things that are safe, and to avoid putting anything into their mouth that could be harmful.
- You may get up from where you are seated in order to pick up an item that you can taste.
- Once you have chosen a food item that is safe to taste, return to your sitting position with your item, and reset the timer.
- Close your eyes. Take a bite and really let the taste of it fill your mouth and mind.
- Is it salty? Sweet? Bitter? Sour? Bland? Spicy?
- If you do not have a food item near you, or if you would like to have fun with this activity, you may choose something and imagine what it might taste like (for example, a cloud), “that cloud would taste like cotton candy”. Using your imagination is a fun way to help shift your mind to a calmer state.
Finally, let’s bring our focus back and reflect on how we are feeling.
Exploring a space using the 5 senses can help bring about a feeling of calm, help identify feelings, and help build calming strategies.
Helping ourselves and our children or other family members to find calming strategies can be a useful way to add tools into your kit during these stressful times.
Adults: talk with children about how they felt before and after the activity, and help them identify the parts of the activity that helped them feel focused or helped them shift how they were feeling. Talk about ways that you can use this activity again in the future!