Orienting Yourself

Stress is the baseline these days. We are in the midst of a pandemic with COVID cases rising. Here in the United States we are going into an election week, with the country waiting anxiously to see what will happen.

All of us are doing the best we can to get by right now. And the more tools we have the better. One major tool we should all have and can easily get is orienting. It can help us deal with anxiety and stress. 

Orient. What does that mean?

When we orient to our surroundings we feel more grounded. To orient is to put yourself where you are. Orienting is a practice I would suggest for everyone to do regularly. All it takes is looking around. Letting your eyes go where they want to go. 

Even if our minds know where we are and what is around us, maybe even by memory, our bodies need to orient, regularly. This means knowing where they are in place and time.

Look all around you and see what you see. Look behind you, even if you are sitting with your back against the wall. Look in all directions. Notice colors, shapes. What do you see? Take 4-5 minutes looking all around you. Even if this is a place you know well. Take time to notice where you are.

You might take a breath. What do you smell? What do you hear? Use your five senses. What do you notice around you?

When we do this, our bodies feel calmer, less anxious, and like they have a sense of where they are located. We are oriented. This is good to do when we feel anxious, but if we do it regularly, we will more easily do it automatically when we are anxious.

Once you have allowed yourself to orient, list four things you see and their colors. 

Write whatever you noticed with your senses. What did you hear? Smell? See? Just notice and write it down. Then breathe again.

Put pen to paper for ten minutes. Try to just write for ten minutes without picking up your pen. Begin with what you noticed.

Self-care is important right now. More than ever perhaps, but it is always important. Practicing orienting can help us feel calmer more consistently.

Thank you for orienting and writing with us today. If you would like to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Be well. Take care- this next week, and always.



Published by lizawolfffrancis

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Steam Ticket, eMerge, Minute Magazine, Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Poetic Routes, Poetry Pacific, Edge, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. She loves breakfast food, popcorn and dark chocolate.

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