Mental Health Awareness Week was 15-21 May 2023. This year’s theme was anxiety, chosen by the Mental Health Foundation to kickstart a nationwide conversation, encouraging people to share their own experiences and any helpful ideas on how they manage and soothe anxiety.

If you’re feeling anxious and want to skip straight to what might help – move to our toolkit heading ‘Choose a sense experience’ and open one of the drop-down menus.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. It’s a natural reaction to stressful or dangerous situations and can actually help us perform better when we need to be alert.

However, when anxiety starts to take over and affect our day-to-day lives, it can become a problem.

That’s why we’ve created a sensory comfort kit filled with MindWell resources, online ideas, free and low-cost self-care techniques, and useful tips that can help you feel better in the moment.

You can also print and personalise our downloadable resource and carry it with you for when you can’t get online.

Using your senses can be a good way to ground yourself in the here and now, which can help your mind and body relax.

Whatever methods you use to soothe your anxiety, try to remember to be kind to yourself. Treat your anxious feelings as you would a friend – gently and without judgement.


Choose a sense experience:

See – views and images to help you feel soothed

How can you use your sight to feel calmer? There are lots of beautiful views, inspiring sights or amazing online images that can help us feel better. Or what about visiting places locally around Leeds to help ground yourself?




  • Take a walk in the park or garden. Go exploring or even rainbow hunting by looking for the seven colours in nature.
  • Visit your favourite place – it could be a bench in the sunshine, a café, shop that always has an eye-catching window display or a trip somewhere with a beautiful view.
At home

  • Collect photos on your phone or in an album, bringing together happy memories, favourite people, holidays, pets and positive moments.
  • Use a notes app or a notebook to collect quotes, affirmations, jokes, compliments, poems or song lyrics that make you feel good.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • Look at items you enjoy and think about what they mean to you.
  • Try distracting yourself from anxious thoughts by challenging yourself to find colours, shapes or specific items when you’re outside or looking out of the window.
MindWell resources

Hear – links and tips for sounds and music to calm your nervous system

You might have listened to music to feel calmer or paid attention to birdsong or the sound of wind or rain. Sounds often bring back memories or are soothing when we’re feeling anxious. We all have different music or noises that we enjoy, so you could think about your favourites or try something new.



  • Nature sounds like rain, the wind or the sea can help us feel calmer. Find a favourite spot where you feel safe and try closing your eyes and really listening.
  • Stop and listen: name five things you can hear right how.
At home

  • Do you play any instruments? What about making music or rhythm in other ways? Try clicking your fingers, tapping on the table or humming.
  • What sounds help calm you at bedtime? Add soothing music, a relaxing meditation track or audiobook to help you wind down for a good night’s sleep.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ so you’re not distracted by alarms, beeps and notifications.
  • If you’re overwhelmed by noise in shops or shopping centres, look for ‘quiet hours’ or  ‘quiet spaces’ you can use. Visit their websites or ask in-store for information.
MindWell resources

Touch – relax your body by feeling cosy

Do you use your sense of touch to feel calmer? How do you feel when a love one hugs you? Or what about a head and neck massage to ease away tension? There are lots of ways we can help ourselves feel less anxious and soothe tension in our bodies.


  • Play a repetitive game on your phone or search for calming apps. The Mind website has a few ideas to get you started.
  • Try self-massage – look for tips from aromatherapy brands or explore YouTube.

  • If you feel anxious away from home, try carrying an item in your pocket to touch in moments of stress or overwhelm, such as a rubber band or pebble.
  • Wear a favourite item of clothing with a texture you enjoy to touch, such as a silky scarf or fluffy jumper.
At home

  • Have a shower or bath and enjoy the warm, comforting feeling. Use favourite soaps, shampoos or lotions and a soft towel.
  • Snuggle up in your favourite dressing gown or pyjamas, get a hot water bottle or a blanket. Notice how your body feels and enjoy the comfort.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • Many people find fidget toys can help distract them when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Find cheap toys in pound shops or low cost places. Find out about making your own fidget toys online.
  • Hugging a loved one or giving ourselves a hug can be soothing.
MindWell resources

  • Try something creative that uses your sense of touch, like paper ripping, collage or printing with potatoes. Explore our Ideas to get creative resource.
  • Use your hands in nature! Find out about gardening groups, conservation work and litter picking in our Connect with nature section.
Smell – tips to sniff out your sense of calm

When you’re feeling stressed, your favourite scents or aromas can bring us back to you breath and help you feel calmer. Your sense of smell might bring back memories of positive moments or people you care about.


  • Why not try aromatherapy? You can find online classes to help you explore floral oils and wellbeing – visit our ways to learn at home page for learning providers.
  • Be inspired by seasonal festivals and try making spicy orange pomanders or scented sachets, or search for ideas for a festival or celebration coming up soon.

  • Notice food smells when you’re out and about, from cafés and supermarkets, such as  freshly baked bread, fish and chips or jacket potatoes.
  • Walk in the park and notice the scent of freshly cut grass, flowers or tree blossoms.
At home

  • Open the window and take a deep breath – notice what you can smell.
  • Many people enjoy the smell of fresh coffee, baking bread or use essential oils or candles to bring relaxing scents to the their homes.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • The scent of fresh laundry can help us feel calmer, so why not put on fresh bedding and clean nightclothes for a relaxing start to bedtime?
  • If you enjoy perfumes or colognes, why not have a spray and sniff session in a shop’s perfume department? Ask for advice about new products and see which is your favourite.
Taste – add some flavour to your day to feel better

There are lots of flavours and types of food, but maybe there are some tastes that help you feel calmer, such as herbal or fruit teas or infusions, peppermint or citrus flavours. Learning about different foods, seasonings and recipes can be inspiring too.


Look for recipes to bring some flavour to your mealtimes. You can find affordable recipes in lots of places, including:


  • Carry some mints, gum or other sweets to chew when you’re feeling stressed.
  • Take a reusable cup to buy a cup of tea or take a flask of your favourite drink.
At home

  • Plan to eat something really tasty today that makes your tastebuds sing!
  • Clean your teeth and enjoy having a fresh, minty mouth.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • When you’re eating something, be mindful and really notice the flavours.
  • Find something you can carry with you that will stimulate your sense of taste, such as fruit or flavoured water.
MindWell resources

  • Eat something mindfully – find out how in our mindfulness section
  • A cup of tea or coffee might be good to taste, but it contains caffeine, which can increase physical sensations of anxiety.
Multi-sensory – combine your sensory tools for more wellbeing

Using our senses can bring us back to the present moment – helpful when we’re feeling anxious or our mind is lost in thoughts and worries. Sometimes we can use more than one of our senses to feel grounded and help us feel better.


The Virtual Village Hall is an online activity hub and community, they offer a wider range of free online activities including:


At home
  • Read a book, magazine, paper or relax with a funny film or your favourite TV programme.
  • Try our Get creative ideas such as collage, ripping paper, textiles or find inspiration online, such as how to draw cartoons or zen doodling.
Tips to help us feel calmer

  • Use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique on MindWell.
  • Try combining your favourite sensory tools, such as listening to calming music whilst drinking soothing chamomile tea or enjoying a scented candle while cuddling a hot water bottle.
MindWell resources

More links for your sensory comfort kit

We’ll keep adding links to services in Leeds and online resources that you might like to add to your sensory comfort kit.

Be mindful

Get creative

Get moving

Go outside

Be playful

Time for a laugh


Download and print our foldable sensory comfort kit

You can carry the comfort kit with you as a prompt when you’re feeling anxious. You can also add your own ideas to create a comfort kit just for you.

Using grounding techniques is just one way to ease anxiety. Explore our section on Anxiety and feeling worried for more information and ways to find help.

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Mental Health Awareness Week was from 15 to 21 May 2023.

We used the hashtags: #BackToYourSenses #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #MHAW23

Follow us on Twitter @MindWellLeeds for future campaigns.