Your brain is like a computer—it only has a certain amount of working memory. Anxiety, worry, and other negative emotions can make it hard for your brain to focus on other tasks that require thinking and problem-solving.
When we get stressed, it is important to get out of our head and ground ourselves in the present moment where we can connect back to our physical self.
Dr. Judson Brewer, a neurologist and the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, suggests using a five-finger breathing technique to ground oneself because it is a multisensory task. Engaging in sight and touch, as well as concentrating on breathing, leaves little room in the brain for negative thoughts.
Activity: Five-Finger Breathing
Hold one hand out in front of you, fingers spread.
Slowly trace the outside of your hand with the index finger on your other hand.
Breathe in when you trace up a finger, breathe out when you trace down.
Move up and down all five fingers.
When you’ve traced your whole hand, revers direction and do it again.
Here’s a video animation to help.
Of course, the exercise does not rid the brain of all negative thoughts; however, it can calm your emotional state which can help keep those thoughts from taking over.