Mindfulness is a common practice used by therapists to help clients learn how to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety for themselves. I often think about it as an informal meditation practice that can be used anytime, anywhere.
Mindfulness seeks to create awareness of the present moment. This is best done if you focus all your attention on one thing at one time, even better if you focus on one of the five senses at the time. For survivors of abuse or trauma, focusing on the present moment is essential if experiencing a flashback or if you’ve been triggered. It helps your mind, body and emotions make a distinction between the past, present or future, bringing everything to a place of rest and peace.
The following practices are ones that clients have told me have really worked for them.
- Mindfulness on the fly – if you’re at work, in a social situation, you can do these things privately without others knowing what you’re doing.a) Shuffle your feet around on the floor, if you can, slip off your shoes, and describe what you’re feeling. Is the floor hard or soft? Focus on the sensations you’re feeling.b) Use some hand cream, taking your time to make sure of it has been dissolved into all your skin.
c) Listen to whatever music is playing, paying attention to different instruments at a time. You may focus only on the drums, piano or guiter.d) Light a candle, spend some time looking at the flame. If it’s scented even better, take the time to enjoy and describe the aroma.
- Mindfulness during your lunch break: This practice needs a little more time. Give yourself up to between 5 – 10 minutes.
a) Look around the room and identify 4 things you see, 4 things you physically feel and 4 things you can hear.
b) Then, 3 different things you can see, 3 different things you can feel, and 3 things you can hear.
c) Then, 2 different things you can see, 2 different things you can feel, and 2 things you can hear.
d) Then, 1 different thing you can see, 1 different thing you can feel, and 1 thing you can hear.
Here’s an example:
I can see a lamp, a book, a pen and glass.
I can feel my hair on my shoulders, my fingers on the keyboard, my legs on the seat, and my back against the chair.
I hear the air conditioner, a car going past, my dog breathing and my fingers tapping on the keyboard.
I can see a phone, a ruler and sticky tape.
I can feel my arms resting against the desk, my computer mouse and my feet in my shoes.
I can hear my breathing, outside traffic and birds tweeting.
I can see a letter and notepad.
I can feel my skirt on legs and the glasses on my face.
I can my cat scratching herself and I can hear a kettle boiling.
I can see a printer
I can feel my lips
I can hear a door closing
It’s really important that you take your time with this, there’s no rush. What I observe in clients during a session, particularly if they’re anxious, is that they start the exercise fast and they slow down because they need to concentrate and focus on some else. That’s the idea! Plus, it has a way of bringing you back ‘in the now’ or ‘the present’ and their stress and anxiety is reduced.
3. Mindfulness at home: Adult colouring books can be found in department stores, news agencies and art shops. It doesn’t matter if your colouring isn’t perfect or you’ve gone outside the lines. You’re not creating a piece of art, you’re staying in the present and giving your mind a rest.
If you find that these exercises haven’t reduced your stress or anxiety as much as you would have hoped, you may find it worthwhile to book in for an appointment. Why go it alone when help is available. Call Rita on 0433 043 102 for an appointment today.
If you haven’t already done so, sign up for my FREE “First Aid Kit” download which guides you through step by step to soothe your sense and put your mind at ease.