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It sounds like a simple idea but can be difficult when struggling with the various symptoms of mental illness. There are many definitions and many philosophies behind what ‘works’. Generally speaking, mindfulness refers to being present in every thought – in touch with feelings, emotions and surroundings. Below are two simple mindfulness techniques to use when feeling anxious or when anxiety appears at an increased level.
This technique involves a bit of concentration. When your mind won’t calm and you hear 15 different television stations running through your mind, consider trying finger taps. Place your hand comfortably in front of you. Slowly and one by one, touch your thumb to each finger. As you touch each finger to your thumb, repeat the words “finger to thumb, finger to thumb” as you proceed through all five fingers. Repeat this exercise a few times until you feel your blood pressure decrease and you are solely focused on the words you are repeating.
This exercise is particularly useful for anxiety. Find a piece of paper and pencil before beginning a surroundings check. Slowly move your head in each direction, noticing the objects surrounding you. Write down each object as you turn your head. Do this motion slowly. Each time you rotate your head, you may begin to notice objects not seen the first go around. This technique encourages thinking and concentration. Challenge yourself to notice objects previously unseen. Repeat this exercise in different surroundings or common spaces in your household.
Mindfulness can be a slow process to learn. Start slow and being more aware of the moment will come more naturally. Practice the above exercises in a group when beginning for extra support. Slowly, mindfulness will become an everyday notion.
Isabelle Marsh is a poet and contributor to Painted Brain News