Try the five senses practice

A useful practice when negative thoughts are getting too much

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When negative thoughts are getting too much, Head Talks ambassador Dr Reena Kotecha suggests the five senses practice that she finds extremely helpful. So find a window, and start!

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  • (deep breathing) 00:01
  • Hello, everyone. 00:03
  • My name is Dr. Reena Kotecha. 00:04
  • I'm a medical doctor and organization well-being consultant. 00:06
  • I focus on helping staff within various organizations 00:10
  • look after themselves, both physically, mentally, 00:14
  • and also be more productive in the workplace 00:17
  • using tools and techniques from the areas of mindfulness, 00:21
  • emotional intelligence, neuroscience, positive psychology 00:24
  • and broader lifestyle-based medicine. 00:28
  • I'm also a Head Talks ambassador. 00:31
  • Today, what I would like to offer the Head Talks community, 00:33
  • and those beyond, is a very short practice 00:36
  • that I love to use personally, 00:39
  • particularly when I find that I'm stuck in my thoughts, 00:40
  • stuck in my mind. 00:44
  • Thoughts these days really tend to have a negative flavor, 00:45
  • a negativity bias. 00:49
  • Of course, that's the way of the world, right? 00:51
  • There's a lot of panic. 00:55
  • There's a lot of fear, uncertainty, ambiguity. 00:56
  • Most of the time we can get caught up 01:02
  • in rumination or catastrophizing. 01:04
  • Worrying about what might happen, 01:07
  • what might not happen, et cetera. 01:08
  • I find when I really get stuck, 01:10
  • particularly when I'm working, 01:13
  • I like to look out the window, 01:15
  • hence I'm sat here by my window, 01:17
  • and engage in a five senses practice. 01:20
  • The senses are a beautiful gateway into the present moment. 01:23
  • They can really ground us in the here and now. 01:27
  • This has beautiful impacts on our health and nervous system. 01:29
  • The five senses practice, 01:36
  • number five, look out the window 01:38
  • and consider five things that you can see. 01:40
  • Five objects that you can see. 01:42
  • Really take a moment to look, to see. 01:44
  • You might consider the shape, 01:48
  • you might consider, I don't know, let's see here, 01:51
  • the color or colors of the object you're seeing. 01:54
  • So I'm personally looking at a tree right now. 01:57
  • You might consider, um, the light reflecting 01:59
  • off the object, for example. 02:03
  • Five things that you can see. 02:06
  • Number four. 02:08
  • Four sounds that you can hear. 02:09
  • Really taking a moment to tune into the auditory sense 02:12
  • and consider four sounds that you can hear. 02:17
  • So I'm currently hearing a motorcycle, 02:20
  • the sound of a motorcycle outside of my window. 02:23
  • It might be, I don't know, 02:27
  • the humming of an appliance in your room. 02:29
  • It might be the sound of the wind. 02:32
  • It could be anything, just four sounds 02:34
  • that you can hear in your environment currently. 02:37
  • Number three, your olfactory sense. 02:40
  • Really taking a moment to take in a scent. 02:43
  • (inhaling) 02:48
  • What can you smell? 02:50
  • So three smells. 02:52
  • I can actually smell paint, 02:53
  • 'cause my room has freshly been painted, 02:56
  • and I really like that sort of musty smell 02:59
  • of paint, believe it or not. 03:02
  • What can you smell? 03:04
  • Is it the smell of tea or coffee 03:05
  • or some food being made in the background? 03:07
  • It's not about judging the smells. 03:10
  • It's not about whether you like the smell 03:12
  • or don't like the smell, 03:14
  • 'cause we can get really caught up 03:16
  • in judgements and criticism. 03:17
  • Just take in the scent, whatever it is. 03:19
  • Number two, what can you touch? 03:23
  • What can you feel? 03:25
  • It might be that you're really feeling, perhaps your skin. 03:27
  • You might be feeling the fabric of your clothing. 03:32
  • Just two things that you can feel. 03:35
  • Really taking a moment to feel. 03:38
  • Last one, what can you taste? 03:42
  • I don't currently have a cup of coffee or tea in my hand, 03:44
  • but if you do, please take a sip and really savor the taste. 03:48
  • Really savor the moment. 03:53
  • Or perhaps just notice the taste in your mouth 03:55
  • as you've got nothing in it. 03:58
  • Even the saliva has a taste. 04:00
  • Really taking a moment to tune into this sense. 04:03
  • Okay, so that's it. 04:07
  • Five, four, three, two, one, tuning into the senses. 04:08
  • Really using this as an opportunity to break up your day, 04:12
  • to break up those thoughts and thought patterns 04:15
  • and come into the present moment. 04:19
  • I really encourage you to do this practice 04:21
  • with your children, if you have children, 04:23
  • or with your family, if you're stuck at home, 04:26
  • working from home. 04:29
  • Use it, use it to connect with others as well. 04:31
  • I wish you well. 04:34
  • All my best until next time. 04:35
Go to the profile of Kirstie Hepburn

Kirstie Hepburn

Head of Corporate and Educational Activities, Head Talks

Head Talks aims to provide you with knowledge, inspiration and a sense of community so you can create your own toolbox to fix and maintain mental health. We are all unique and find our inspiration and sense of wellbeing from many different sources. Each of our journeys is unique, whether it’s to recovery or simply feeling better in the world.

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