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Staying Grounded with I Spy

I spy

I attended a social event the other day where the guest speaker was a mental health professional who spoke about resilience. One of the tools she presented was a simple grounding exercise that can be used to control negative emotions and quiet the mind. To execute this exercise you simply identify things that you see, hear, and feel in the moment (a la ‘I Spy’). You start by listing 5 things for each sense, then 4, then 3, etc. I think it’s ok to repeat things, if that’s what you notice.

Example:
Five things I see:
hand on keyboardI see a chair, I see a calendar, I see my hands, I see the computer screen, I see scissors.
Five things I hear:
I hear my computer keyboard, I hear the modem, I hear the downspout dripping, I hear a clock, I hear my breath.
Five things I feel:
I feel the weight of one leg crossed over the other. I feel the keys of the keyboard, I feel my sweatshirt sleeves, I feel cold on my feet, I feel the desk under my arms.

Four things I see:
I see scissors, I see my phone, I see the computer screen, I see a book.
Four things I hear:
I hear the downspout, I hear my computer keyboard, I hear the modem, I hear a bird.
Four things I feel:
I feel my foot pressed against the desk, I feel my crossed leg, I feel a cramp in my shoulder, I feel the keyboard under my fingers.

The beauty of the exercise is that it’s not hard to do, so your brain will not be taxed, but it requires just enough concentration so that you have to focus on it.

The following day I was struggling with my workout and I used this exercise to help me get through it. I realized that this would be especially valuable to practice before addressing a large group, or waiting in the lobby before and interview.

While not as suspenseful as the typical ‘I Spy’, I think this would be a great exercise to share with children as well. No matter one’s age, it is always helpful to slow down and notice one’s surroundings

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