Mindfulness Techniques; Where do I start?
The types, explanations, and number of mindfulness techniques out there are countless. It’s so overwhelming, it can be difficult to even get started, much less find something that works for you. Here are a few tricks and tips to simplify the art of mindfulness.
Most techniques fit into a few loose categories:
Meditation. Most people are pretty familiar with this one. It involves things like repeating a mantra, focusing on a point in the distance, visual imagery, etc. It is usually an internal, “in your head” type of technique.
Breathing. Again, this one is pretty straightforward. There are lots of different breathing exercises, and they calm your physical body by limiting the oxygen coming in and calm your mind by giving you something to focus on. This means they target both physical and mental stress, which is why breathing techniques are often very effective. They are also super simple and can be done anywhere without anyone else knowing what you’re doing.
Grounding techniques. These tend to use your own senses to ground you; it can be holding a scented candle and watching the flame (touch-warmth, smell-scent, sight-flame, sound-flame, etc), the 5-4-3-2-1 method, etc. These help ground you to what your five senses are processing, which automatically puts you in the present moment. These techniques work well for panic attacks and extreme anxiety.
- A few notes: not all types of techniques work for everyone. Some people love meditation. Some people hate breathing exercises. Everyone is different and processes these things differently. If something doesn’t work well for you, don’t waste time on it. There are literally a thousand other techniques you can try.
- Don’t use these techniques to avoid things you need to face. Use them to help you face things you want to avoid – for example, use a grounding technique before a difficult conversation – it will help you go into it in a calmer, more rational mindset.
- Use youtube; it is a never-ending source for mindfulness techniques to try!
If you are struggling with extreme anxiety, stress or emotional dysregulation, give us a call at our clinics in Cary, Fuquay-Varina, or Apex. We have therapists and interns that are here to help you!
Mental Health Student Intern