Helpful Hints

Learning to be Mindful

Mindfulness is a term that has become well known. It’s good for everything. Mental, physical and emotional health can all be improved by being mindful. What is mindfulness? Living in the moment is a great theory but in practice it can be quite difficult. I’ve talked before about radical acceptance and how it can improve your life. Mindfulness can come with radical acceptance. It often comes hand and hand with many different mental health strategies. In pain prevention or response, mindfulness can be utilized to endure. It’s possibilities are endless, so where do we start? Right here….

  • Take a deep breath

When anxious or in pain, we often start to breathe more rapidly. That sends a message to our body that we need to fight, flight, or freeze. In order to slow or stop this process, we need to notice our breath. It can help to start counting your breaths. Only go to a low number. It’s important we don’t get caught up in trying to beat our last mindfulness session in terms of breaths. Go to five or ten then start back at one. 

  • Ground Yourself

Grounding is a really useful practice. There are lots of different techniques to use. I love finding the rainbow. Start to go through ROYGBIV and find each color. If that doesn’t work for you, use the senses technique. Start with your hearing and move on. This is all about bringing yourself back into the room you’re in. Go through all five senses. You can also use both of these if you need to practice longer. There are lots of different practices, do a quick google search if these don’t work for you.

  • Be Patient

This is difficult. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your mindfulness technique. This is a practice. It takes time to build up your ability to be mindful. Part of that is being aware of your thoughts. You don’t need to control them, simply be aware of them. Trying to change or distort thoughts will only make them grow stronger. Remember, thoughts are thoughts and they don’t define you. If you struggle with OCD or intrusive thoughts of any kind, that’s important to remember.

  • Meditate

I know that a lot of people dislike meditation but it can be very helpful. Personally, I enjoy meditation because it helps to relax my full body and mind. With chronic illness, it’s easy to get caught up in our body sensations. Taking two to ten minutes everyday or twice daily can drastically change your habits. 

  • Start Habit Change

It’s important when being mindful to look at your life as a whole. It’s easy to start habits and abandon them within a couple weeks. It takes 21 days to create a pattern. To make a new routine, you must eliminate old ones and start to analyze what serves you and what doesn’t. This is difficult and time consuming but it all starts with one thing at a time. You don’t have to make changes all at once. In fact, I suggest you don’t. You’re more likely to succeed if you are patient and do things in sections.

All of these tips can be trivial. Everyone needs to assess for themselves what mindfulness looks like. How it fits into your life is up to you. Getting started with these practices is difficult. This is especially true if you don’t know where to start. I hope this gives you a reference point and leads you in the direction you’re hoping to go. 

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