My previous blog was all about finding super simple ways to soothe stress & anxiety, at those times when doing anything feels almost impossible.

A mindful first aid kit.  Check it out here

One of my favourite techniques is tuning into the 5 senses with a quick scan, gently focusing in turn on what can we can see, then hear, then smell, taste and touch.

And so I’ve decided to write a series of blogs about some of the benefits we can tap when we delve deeper with each sense.  These have all been proven to benefit our emotional and mental health.

The techniques below vary in complexity.

Some are perfect for mindful first aid, others are for when you’ve emerged from the intense zone.

All are great to soothe stress & anxiety, and build resilience.


Remember the Keep Things Super Simple (KISS) guidelines of mindful first aid:

  • Find small, simple ways to soothe
  • Choose ones that resonate with you
  • And do them again and again, especially when you’re feeling strong, so you’ll be able to access them easily when there’s a wobble

Using Sight to Soothe Stress & Anxiety

Here’s a few ways of bringing in the good stuff:

1.  Watch The Birds

Research shows that people who are able to see more birds, shrubs and trees in their neighbourhood are less likely to suffer from depression, stress and anxiety, even when taking socio-demographic variation into account.

You get these benefits if you see the birds in your garden, through a window or in your local area. So you can improve your mental health by getting outside, or looking out of the window and noticing.  If you’ve got access to a garden or outdoor space, why not entice the birds with bird friendly planting and feeders?

2.  Find Some Fractals

Did you know that there are shapes in nature which can help reduce stress levels by up to 60%?

Fractals are repeating patterns that are identical, or similar.  In nature, we can see examples in leaves, shells, snowflakes, flowers and they also appear in artwork.  It’s thought that the stress reduction happens because of a physiological resonance within the eye.

I love the work of Emma Mitchell and her book The Wild Remedy.  She’s an expert in using the natural world and creativity to boost mental health.

You can buy Emma’s images as screensavers at her Ko-Fi account, and her book is packed with gems.  Or find some fractals yourself to look at and let go of some stress.

3.  Get Lost in a World of Cute Animals

And that’s a big tick for some screen time for a change.  And means you don’t have to buy a puppy!

Just have a rummage round social media and the internet for gorgeous photos, videos and even livestreams of animal cuteness.

Four Seasons
4.  Observe the Seasons

This is one I love and dates back to my Traditional Acupuncture training where we had to keep a Seasons Diary.  It encouraged me to get outside and look, hear and smell the constant changes in nature.  I still do it now and, for me, it’s a fast track way to feeling calm and uplifted.

Start looking at all that’s going on in the natural world.

Get completely absorbed in the tiny details of the season – the trees, plants, the birds, even the tiny little insects.

And step into a world of wonderment.

5.   (Carefully) Embrace the Telly Vegging!

TV can be a tricky one to call.  Ideally, when stressed, we want activities that soothe and nourish rather than distract.

Sometimes TV can leave you a bit “zoned out” – not ideal.  It can even make things worse.  The part of your brain that controls stress doesn’t really distinguish between real life and the imaginary world.

So if it’s already in an activated state, something frightening or grim can take it into overdrive.  I’m all for making a cuppa if things are getting tense – I have a patient husband!

But I don’t rule out TV completely as it gives me relaxation and pleasure.

Some of my favourite programmes for de-stressing include The US Office, The Detectorists, Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, Taskmaster and The Great Pottery Throwdown.


So that’s just a few examples of what we can access with our sense of sight to feel better every day.

What things to you love to look at to de-stress?

Next post with all be about soothing stress and anxiety with sound and smell…