The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: December 2012

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No. 123: Count Ten Breaths

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice counting out ten deep breaths twice a day as a way of sowing the seeds of mindfulness into my daily life.

To do this, I will imagine my thoughts are following my breath as I breathe into my belly and count  ‘in, one’ and then breathe out and count ‘out, one’, then ‘in, two… out, two’ and so on until I get ten. Each time I breathe in, I will see my thoughts moving down into my belly and each time I breathe out, I will see them being released with my breath. I will not hold on to any particular thoughts, but come back to my breath as I count in and out until I get to ten.

In preparation I will schedule in two times a day so I don’t have to rely on my memory to remember to practice counting my ten breaths (such as waking up and going to bed) or set up a daily trigger to remind me to practice (such as waiting for the kettle to boil or sitting down to eat).

When I am comfortable stopping to count ten breaths into my belly and ten breaths out, I will add ‘count ten breaths’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during moments of stress and distress. By stopping to count ten breaths I will feed my body calming signals, mindfully distract my attention and give myself some space before responding to whatever it is that lies before me.

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The Coping Kete is taking a summer holiday and will be back in mid-January 2013 ready for another year of coping strategies. Search the archives for fresh ideas to try in the meantime and have a safe holiday period.

No. 122: Use the Positivity Ratio

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I am going to practice using the Positivity Ratio to help shift my thoughts and feelings. Researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have found that it takes three positive thoughts to shift a negative thought. This week, I am going to practice consciously having positive thoughts, so that when I find my thoughts going dark, I will be able to use my skills to improve the moment.

As I go through each day, I will try to pause whenever I remember to and list three positive things I have recently noticed. I will work to list the smallest things I can, as well as noticing bigger things. This will help me get really used to noticing the elements of things that might bring me some joy. This week, I am going to learn how to notice the things that might give me joy. I will let them exist alongside anything that I find unpleasant or distressing.  As I list my three positive things, I will focus my awareness on each thing and make myself really mindful of all of the good things about it and what it is that makes it positive to me. I will try to do this at least two or three times every day this week, regardless of how I feel. It might help to schedule in to do it in the morning and at night so I remember to practice – remembering to practice can be really hard.

When I am familiar with purposefully thinking of three small positives, I will add ‘Use the Positivity Ratio’ to my Personal Coping Kete. When I notice myself having pessimistic thoughts or feeling really bad, I will use the positivity ratio to make myself mindfully aware of three good things, however small they may be. I will let those three good things, exist side-by-side with whatever else I am experiencing so that the hard things do not stop me from noticing the good things.

No. 121: Mindfulness Walks

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice using mindfulness walks to shift my mood. I will start by scheduling in at least ten minutes to go for a walk outside everyday. While I walk I will focus my attention on the current moment, in which I am walking and looking around me and really noticing what is there. I will also notice myself and how my body feels to be moving around in the world. When I notice thoughts about the day returning to my mind, I will observe my thoughts briefly and then come back to being aware of my current environment and what is around me.

Across the week, I might experiment with walking in different places. The environment I walk in might change the way I respond. For example, walking in the city streets might connect me with the bustle of people living their lives and walking in the park might connect me with nature. This week I will try to be aware of how different environments effect me. I will then be able to use this information to make sure I give myself time in the environments that soothe and calm me on a regular basis.

Once I am comfortable going for a walk and tuning into my surroundings on a regular basis, I will add ‘Go For a Mindfulness Walk’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for dealing with stress and distress. When I notice I am feeling distressed, I will be able to use the strategy to shift myself out of the distressing moment for a little while and possibly return with a fresh perspective.

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Acknowledgement: Mindfulness can be traced back to buddhist philosophy. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. Jon Kabbat-Zinn is known for popularising mindfulness in the medical community with the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts. Marsha Linehan is known for popularising mindfulness in the mental health community with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  The basic practice of mindfulness features in many strategies shared in The Coping Kete. Once you learn the basic skills, you can use mindfulness in any moment you find yourself in, in countless different ways. There is an awful lot behind each of the skills involved. Follow the links above to learn more.