54321

I don’t often get caught up in politics or the news, but this year has certainly been compelling, with all the lies and the absolute inability of people to see those lies, the rampant hatred, the destruction in our cities and our way of life and the disinclination of the mayors and governors to do anything about mob rule, as well as the mask mandates and other laws that further isolate already isolated people. It all makes me so very sad.

And stressed.

And I don’t want to be sad or stressed.

Recently, I read about the 54321 technique for grounding oneself during a panic attack: focus on five things you see, then four things you can feel, three things you hear, two things you can smell, and finally, one thing you can taste.

Although I’ve never had a panic attack, I can get “ungrounded” and lose focus on what is around me. And what is around me is a lot of beauty. I see zinnias, Halloween bulbs, and New England Asters in my yard. I saw a waterfall when I was out doing errands. And I see the stack of books I got from the library as well as one I was gifted.

I feel my fingers on the keyboard, the chair I am sitting on, the wooden table beneath my arms as I type, a bit of chafing on my elbow. I hear a distant train, the tapping of the computer keys, the refrigerator. I smell — well, not much of anything. The air is smoky today from distant forest fires, which shuts down my smeller, but I can taste the smoke.

Ah, there. So much better! This exercise doesn’t, of course, change anything that is going on elsewhere in the country, but I don’t see how I can change anything anyway.

This way, at least I won’t be adding more complication to an already complicated world.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator