Clinical Coordinator of UpStreet
Mindfulness for the Non-Believers
Raise your hand if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Are you spending a lot of time and energy thinking or worrying about school, friends, relationships, family, holidays, global pandemics, politics, racial injustice? If you’re not feeling it now, maybe you have felt overwhelmed at some point in your life, so you can still raise your hand.
Welcome. You’ve come to the right place.
There are some things you can do when your brain becomes overloaded with thoughts and worries. What I’m about to share are some quick and easy ways to start practicing mindfulness. Some of you might be ready to stop reading at this point but I’m asking you to give it a try. I think there are some misconceptions about what mindfulness is and what it actually requires of a person. You don’t need to spend 30 minutes meditating or chanting om or reciting a mantra in order to be mindful. You just need to bring your attention to the present moment. In other words, turn your thoughts off from things that have already happened or things that may or may not happen in the future.
What I’m about to share are a few grounding techniques. They are meant to be a temporary distraction from whatever is stressing you out and bring your attention to something else like your body or your surroundings. It’s like giving your mind a chance to walk away and regain it’s composure.
Clench and unclench fists
Make a tight fist and then release it. When making fist, feel the pressure of your fingers in your palm. Do you feel tension in your forearms? Are you squeezing so tight that your arms are shaking a bit? Then unclench your fists and notice the difference.
Hold an ice cube
Feel the cold! Feel the ice cube begin to melt. Notice the water as it melts. Really pay attention to how the ice and then the cold water feel in your hand.
Look around you and identify:
5 things you can see—Anything your eyes notice.
4 things you can feel—Some examples might be the clothes you’re wearing, the seat you’re sitting in, you can touch your hair or the fuzzy slippers you might be wearing.
3 things you can hear—Could be your breath, other people in the house, cars outside.
2 things you can smell—Are there smells coming from the kitchen, the scent of your shampoo on your hair, a candle?
1 thing you can taste—Like the gum you’re chewing, the coffee you just drank, your minty fresh toothpaste.
Pick a color
Pick any color and then look around you to see how many different things you can see that are that color.
Keep it moving
Do jumping jacks, run in place, run up and down the stairs, dance it out. Pay attention to how your body feels. Notice your legs moving, your heartbeat increasing, the heat that’s being generated by the activity, feel your breath quickening.
I invite you to try some of these. You can try them anytime but sometimes it’s helpful to try them when you’re actually feeling pretty calm or in control of your emotions. That way, when you’re feeling overly stressed or anxious or overwhelmed the techniques will be more familiar. It can be difficult to learn new things when you’re under stress. So, try these out and let us know how it goes. If you’d like to learn more about grounding or mindfulness hop on over to the chatbot. We are big fans of this stuff at UpStreet and are always excited to share them with others.