How to calm anxiety using your 5 senses

Anxiety is a natural response to a real threat or something that we think is threatening to our wellbeing. While anxiety is natural, the symptoms and severity of it can be uncomfortable especially if we feel it when we are in a situation that does not warrant it. While there are a number of ways to treat anxiety, I want to share with you how to calm anxiety by using sensory self-soothing. Sensory self-soothing is using your senses such as sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing to help calm the body and mind. Your senses can be powerful triggers of anxiety symptoms and they can also help you to feel grounded and calm. Try using the questions below as you think about items that might help you self-soothe.

  • Sight   
    • What images are calming for you? (Ex. Pictures, affirmation cards)
  • Sound
    • Are there specific sounds or music that help you to relax? (Ex. Calming playlist, Nature sounds)
  • Smell
    • Do you have a favorite or relaxing smell/ fragrance you enjoy? (Ex. Aromatherapy, candles)
  • Touch
    • What physical items help you to feel grounded or provide comfort? (Ex. Stress ball, fidget items)
  • Taste
    • Find things you can taste that soothe you. This is not the same as stress eating. Think of something that is hard or something you can chew. (Ex. Peppermints, gum)

Explore what is the most soothing to you and engage with it mindfully. Be fully present with it, without judgement, and notice what you feel in the moment. Think about putting the items together and create your own self-soothing kit that you can use during the course of the day or to help you feel calm during moments of distress. If you feel like the anxiety you are experiencing is overwhelming or beyond what friends and/or family have been able to help with, reach out to a licensed professional.

Be well,

Ebony Skinner, LPC

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be or substitute treatment by a Licensed Professional Counselor.