Tips from the Zen Den: 5,4,3,2,1 technique

How to ease anxiety with the 5,4,3,2,1 technique

This is a tried and tested technique by one of my clients that I absolutely love. It’s been backed by many psychologists as The Independent newspaper article I’ll link to will attest too.

‘When anxiety threatens our peace of mind, it can be difficult to stay in the moment.

But one mindfulness tool used by multiple psychologists has the potential to pull our brains free from the anxiety by grounding us in the present.

The “5-4-3-2-1” tool is a simple yet effective method for regaining control of your mind when anxiety threatens to take over – and it consists of more than counting backwards from five. The hack helps bring us back to the present by relying on our five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste:

5 things you can see (look around and notice your surroundings – notice colours, textures, animals, people etc)

4 things you can hear (traffic, music, chatter)

3 things you can feel (could be your chair underneath you, your feet in your shoes)

2 things you can smell (deodorant, aftershave, someone’s lunch!)

1 thing you can taste’. (My client and I prefer to swap this one for one steady breathe in and out)

I find this really cuts through the mindless chatter in the head and immerses you in your surroundings, holding each finger as you do it also connects your mind to body.

As the article says: ‘The trick, which relies on sensory awareness, is rooted in mindfulness – and apart from anxiety, it can help treat depression, addiction disorders, lower blood pressure, and relieve stress, according to Harvard University’s

So the next time you are feeling anxious, focus on what you can see, feel, and touch – and ignore the insecurities that only exist inside your head.’

Click here for full article: The Independent: Mindfulness techniques

Tips from the Zen Den: Being brilliant every single day

Breathe: Ted Talk: being brilliant every single dayOne of my favourite things about my newly launched small group Zen Pilates in the Den classes this week has been the sharing of wellbeing tips. One client shared her favourite TedTalk titled: Being Brilliant Every Single Day by Dr Alan Watkins an expert on human performance. He explains how the biggest inhibitor of our performance is our own physiology. Under pressure we give ourselves a ‘DIY lobotomy’ and we suddenly can’t think clearly. He explains (with humour) that the single most important thing we can do is breathe properly. To summarise he gives this acronym:




Through the


Every day

Give it a watch and you’ll get the full context. It’s fascinating. The power of our performance is in our hands (or heart).

Watch now: Being Brilliant Every Single Day

#breathe #breathetoperform #notjustyogicnonsense #breatheforlife #breathwork #zenintheden #zenpilates #breathingtechniques #zenergyactive #tedtalks #dralanwatkins

What is Pilates?

ABDB2473-A71D-4988-B654-D3E4FEE77AB1This weekend I’m hosting a pop up Zen and Energy Pilates taster session at a local school fete and I’m anticipating some of the questions I might get asked. The most fundamental being – what is Pilates?  I’m after a succinct response that encapsulates everything I want to say about this holistic practice that will quickly convert a Pilates rejector.  The second being ‘isn’t it for girls?’.

I did some googling for inspiration and found two insightful articles (links below). The first article quotes Joseph Pilates directly answering the  question – what is Pilates? ‘Pilates is about stretch, strength and control’.  Makes sense to take the words from the founding father so that’s solved. And for why men should do Pilates…well as the second article explains… if it’s good enough for Tiger Woods, Andy Murray, David Beckham, the English, Welsh and New Zealand Rugby Teams then it has to be worth a try?  Bring on the doubters……

Pilates: Stretch, strength and control

Why men should do Pilates


How full is your stress bucket?

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, one of my clients was telling me her workplace ran an exercise called ‘Stress Bucket’ as a tool to identify how the things currently in your life make you feel and how to manage them more effectively.  She was raving about it so I had a go and found it really insightful.   This article provides a succinct summary of the exercise – give it a try……

As the article says ‘It is very unlikely you will be able to completely empty your bucket, and having some stress in our lives is what makes us human.. its having the ability to cope with what we have in it which is the critical factor in keeping us healthy’ and of course having the coping mechanisms in place to release the stresses out of the bucket.  Do you feel you have enough ways to empty your stress bucket in place – to help release the feeling of overwhelm?  If not, give some thought to what you feel you want and need to put in place that would restore some calm and re-invigorate.

Read full article: here

#zenergyactive #stressbucket #mentalhealthawarenessweek #stresstips


How to improve your balance as you age


Figures from the NHS show that a third of people over 60 fall over, and about half of those over 80 fall at least once a year.

‘The only way to hold on to balance and prevent falls is to practise specific balance training. Despite their physical prowess, the masters athletes were not much better at balancing than couch potatoes the same age. Balance needs to be practised’.

Really interesting article from The Times about improving your balance as you age. I incorporate balance challenges into every class for this very reason, being able to balance is vital as we age to avoid injuries and to stay supple and strong.

Incorporate regular balance challenges into your every day – stand on one leg as you brush your teeth tonight!

#balance #pilatesforlife #prehabnotrehab #zenergyactive

Full article: How to improve your balance as you age