By Autumn Moran, LPC
Mindfulness is the key component of DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dialectical means to be ‘open-minded’; not thinking in absolutes, black or white, all or nothing. With mindfulness, the goal is to accept the moment just as it is and be in the moment just as you are. Everything you have is enough. Instead of your mind being full of thoughts your mind is full of what is right in front of you. This practice keeps us grounded in the present moment – and when we are in the present moment, we can’t think about the future (anxious feelings), nor can we think about the past (depressive feelings).
The art of practicing mindfulness is easier said than done because we live in a society that perpetuates fear and future doom at times. BUT – mindfulness is possible! With practice and dedication you too can ease anxious symptoms by simply changing your thoughts. Below are a few ways of introducing mindfulness into your life.
- It all starts with the breath. Take a moment to get in tune with your breath. Are you breathing fast? Slow? Holding your breath? Is your breath in your chest? Is your breath in your lungs? Just simply observe the breath. Become aware of anytime you may not be getting a full breath down into the lung; no judgment, just noticing. Now that you are aware of the breath, take 3 slow deep breaths. Anytime you feel anxious, come to your breath, become familiar with your breath and use it to calm yourself.
- Sprinkle mindfulness in your day by using everyday chores and situations as cues to be present. When you are driving and have to stop at a red light, check your grip on the steering wheel and soften it if your grip is too tight and take a few deep breaths. When you are cooking or cleaning, pay attention to your grip and thoughts while doing the activities. If your thoughts are racing, focus on what you are doing and practice thinking about the task at hand.
- Mindfully eat one meal a day. Take the time to eat one meal that doesn’t involve screen time or any other distractions. Simply focus on the meal you are eating. Appreciate the colors, textures, presentation, smells, and nourishment it will provide. Imagine the lineage of the food you are about to eat; where did it come from? How many people were involved in its creation? How far did it have to travel to get to your plate? Also enjoy the taste of each bite, savoring each bite. Eat mindfully.
- Get outside and enjoy a mindful walk. Leave the music at home and enjoy a walk in nature where you observe all that is around. Soak up the city, nature, or the environment of the gym. The goal is to simply walk slowly and observe your surroundings. When your thoughts start to wander, ground yourself in the present moment with your 5 senses; name things you see, hear, smell, touch, taste.
There you have it, 4 mindfulness tips to add some calmness to your day. May you be well and may these tips help ease some anxious moments. Don’t forget to breathe deeply.