Mindfulness is all about returning to your body and allowing yourself to just be.
If you struggle with anxiety and depression, being present with your emotions will help you move past the discomfort and learn from the messages your feelings send you. Developing your own mindfulness practice will help you when you are feeling overwhelmed and bogged down. Here are 6 mindfulness techniques to keep in your toolbox:
Engage the senses
You can engage your five senses to help calm your mind whenever something triggers and activates your nervous system. Start by noticing five things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Engaging your senses can help you find joy and appreciation in the moment, creating a healthier mind.
Mindful walking is a practice that can help calm you and bring you into the present moment. It’s about becoming aware of your surroundings and engaging your senses as you’re walking. It’s also about noticing how your body and mind feel as you’re walking. It’s not about getting to a destination, but the process of writing.
When you eat mindfully rather than mindlessly, you are able to not only savor your food and notice your body’s cues, but you are also able to learn how to enjoy the present moment. Instead of combining your mealtimes with other activities, like TV watching, learn ways to surround the sacred act of eating with mindfulness. Approach food in a way that makes you more mindful and aware.
Eliminate all distractions. Look at your food with curiosity, noticing the colors on your plate, the scent and the texture. Make sure to pause and take a deep breath.
Write down your thoughts
“When we take our thoughts out of our heads and put them in front of us on a piece of paper, it decreases the charge they cause by spinning in our heads” ~ Jen Carey
Once they are out there in your journal, where you can read them back to yourself, they lost their power over you. It also helps us more easily see our own individual thought patterns. Please remember that once you write them down, it’s time to practice gentle curiosity, compassion and non-judgement toward the thoughts.
The Pushing Away Method
If you have these anxieties that won’t go away, you need to ask yourself these questions: “Can I solve it now?” and “Is this a good time to work on it?” If you can solve it in that moment, and it is a good time to do so, solve that problem now! If you can’t, the pushing away method comes in handy. Here, you can either shelf it or put it in a prayer box. When you’re shelving something, you are giving yourself permission to think about whatever is troubling you at a later time. If you can’t solve it, come back to it later. This doesn’t mean avoiding your anxiety, it just means that instead of ruminating and letting your mind control you, you are giving your brain a break from the worry until you have the tools and the emotional bandwidth to deal with it.
Befriend your emotions
We get to a point in our lives where people start telling us don’t feel this scared, don’t feel sad, don’t be too happy, you may be let down. What I don’t think we realize is that judging our emotions only fuels the fire and adds a charge to it, making it even more difficult and uncomfortable.
It is important to treat our emotions as beloved friends with compassion, curiosity, kindness and respect. What if we started to treat our emotions with the gentlest of curiosity, with the compassionate understanding we would give our most beloved friend? What if we decided to befriend our emotions rather than make them our enemy?
Are your triggers and anxieties holding you back? Click here to send our office manager, Alli, an email. She’ll help you get matched to your perfect therapist.
Counseling services at Integrative Counsel
Other mental health services Integrative Counsel provides are depression counseling, anxiety counseling, art therapy, improving codependency and boundaries, grief and life transition, accessing your body informed wisdom, and increasing mindfulness and awareness.
Jennifer Carey is a writer, speaker, and licensed mental health counselor dedicated to helping you heal, learn, and grow. She has a podcast called “Illuminating The Stories That Bind Us”, which you can listen to here.