Taking care of our physical health during this time has become a priority, but our mental health is just as important. Marsha Linehan has developed many life skills in her Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that can help you manage both your physical and mental health. One of the foundational skills is called Mindfulness. It has become well recognized as a good way to keep yourself calm during stressful situations – but what is it, and how do you practice it?
Mindfulness is about being aware of what you’re doing, thinking and feeling in the moment. We tend to go through the motions of life without a thought, especially now that we are doing the same things repeatedly without much variety. One simple way to practice mindfulness is by taking something that you tend to do mindlessly and choose to be mindful of it. Notice your senses (how you feel and think), and choose not to hold on to them. This helps you to learn more about yourself and be more present in your life.
When working to be mindful of your emotions, it becomes a bit harder. First, you need to notice when you are feeling an emotion. Notice the physical sensations that come with that emotion. Instead of acting on it, notice it, and observe how it affects you. Think about what brought on that emotion and how you can ensure noticing your emotion leads to a positive outcome.
Another aspect of mindfulness is being aware of other people. Pay complete attention to another person without thinking about or doing something else. Notice if any judgements come to mind, and try to be as interested in what they say as possible. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions about things you think about or notice. Throw yourself into participating in the interaction by thinking about what they want out of the interaction instead of what you want out of it.
Mindfulness is all about learning things about yourself and how you interact with the people and world around you. Paying better attention to your life as it happens helps you to enjoy your experiences more and work on improving your relationships with others.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! Until we meet again in person, please wash your hands, maintain social distance and stay close to home. We are in this together.
Source: Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT® skills training handouts and worksheets (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.