The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Relaxation

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. 

No. 118: Declare a Peace Treaty with the Moment

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

… I will practice mindful distraction and self-soothing by regularly pausing and declaring a peace treaty with the current moment. When I declare a peace treaty with a moment, that means I am committing to spend a moment in peace before moving on to my next experience of the day. I will surrender whatever is on my mind for a moment and peacefully engage my attention in my surroundings.

This week, when I am in between tasks, I will practice saying to myself either silently or out loud “I declare a peace treaty with this moment.” I will then take a minute or more to ground myself peacefully in the current moment before I move on to the next task before me. Declaring a peace treaty with a moment means that for this moment I will interact with myself and my surroundings in a kind, calm way.

I will take 10 slow, deep breaths while I stop and mindfully observe my current surroundings. As I notice thoughts about the past or the future surfacing, I will remind myself of my peace treaty with this moment and turn my attention back to my peaceful breathing and the space around me in this current moment.

In accordance with my peace treaty, if I notice critical or judgemental thoughts, I will say something kind or accepting to myself to soothe them. I will then bring my attention back to my breathing and observing my current surroundings.

In this way, I will practice giving myself times of relaxation and release from worrying or critical self-talk. By practicing breathing at the same time, I will be able to return to the next task of the day with a clearer mind and calmer mood.

Each time I find myself in between tasks, I will stop and practice declaring a peace treaty with the moment again. Throughout the week I will experiment with different ways of doing it until I find what works well for me. I will keep a record of the things that make it tricky and how to respond to them differently next time, so I can start to build a good list of what a Peace Treaty with the Moment looks like and involves for me.

Once I have become familiar with the practice of declaring a peace treaty with a moment and taking some time to be present and kind to myself in between ordinary, daily tasks, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete for times when I find myself struggling against stress and distress. I will be able to declare a peace treaty with the difficult moment, disengage from feelings of conflict and take some time out to send myself some mindful messages of calm and compassion before I respond.

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Acknowledgement: This mindfulness strategy was inspired by Thich Naht Hanh’s Peace Treaty method for communication during conflict. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. 

No. 110: A Sense A Day

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

… I will use mindfulness of my senses to practice shifting my thoughts and improving the moment. This week, I will regularly tune my attention into one of my senses each day and deliberately plan activities that will allow me to indulge it a little. I will plan in advance which sense I will do each day, and then throughout that day I will make myself aware of that sense. The next day I will practice being aware of a different one of my five senses.

For example, on Monday I might pay particular attention to what I taste whenever I eat or drink, on Tuesday I might stop what I am doing for a moment throughout my day and pay attention to the different things I hear, on Wednesday I might practice being aware of the sensations I have when I touch things, on Thursday I might practice taking time to pay attention to the sights around me, on Friday I might practice taking time out to notice the smells around me. In this way, I will practice mindfully shifting my attention onto something different.

Once I am comfortable practicing mindfully shifting my attention like this, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from unhelpful thoughts when I am distressed or stressed.

No. 108: Hum Tiddely-Pom

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

… I will practice humming an upbeat tune to myself to help myself feel optimistic in moments of uncertainty.

It seems like such a little thing it couldn’t possibly help. But sometimes a simple thing like humming ‘tiddely-pom’ in a ‘what-shall-we-do-now kind of way’ can give a person just the kind of positive break they need before responding to something stressful or confusing.

This week, I’ll take a lesson from Winnie the Pooh and I will practice humming or singing ‘tiddely pom’ (or something like it) to myself in a ‘what-will-I-do-next kind of way  whenever I notice I am in an ‘in-between moment’ where I don’t know what I am going to do next.

Once I am used to doing this in the everyday in-between moments, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of giving myself space before I respond to things that are distressing or difficult. I could maybe even use it as a light-hearted way of opening up a line of communication around not being sure what to do next.

In those moments where I might usually start criticising myself for not knowing what to do, I will instead do something positive (humming), that still acknowledges the difficulty I am facing (not knowing what to do). I will notice whether it has any effect on my mood, the way I respond or those around me. Humming has been known to have physical effects on the body because it changes the way we breathe. It might even help change my mood that way.

Strategy 108 is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh’s Little Book of Wisdom by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shephard. 

 

No. 104: Connecting with Interests & Skills

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

I will practice connecting with my interests and developing my skills by joining some kind of community course. Most community centres offer cheap community classes on topics ranging from cooking and clothing alterations to ballroom dancing, yoga and martial arts.

This week I will spend time exploring my options and finding a first class to try. It could take a few tries before I find a class that suits me. I will use my local telephone directory, The Community Resources Directory, web searches and local noticeboards to get a picture of what is available in my community. I might also talk to the people around me about what is out there and whether they recommend anything.

As I move through my day I will remember that I am exploring my interests and am well on my way along the path towards a more enjoyable life. Any points of dissatisfaction are simply the areas that are still works in progress.

It might be hard for me to get myself along so I might ask a friend, family member or other supporter if they want to come with me. That might also be a nice way to strengthen a relationship I have been wanting to build.

Once I have found a hobby-course that I enjoy and I have become familiar with the activity I have been learning, I will add the activity to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of engaging with my skills and interests to shift my mood when I am distressed.

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Today’s post marks two full years of The Coping Kete in its online form.

The Coping Kete book is coming soon.  

No. 103: Mindfulness of My Senses

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

…I will practice using the 5 senses of taste, touch, sight, sound and smell to shift my attention away from unhelpful thoughts, concerns and moods.

This week, as I move through my day I will take pauses whenever I remember to and make myself aware of my five senses in that moment. This will allow me to practice moving my attention away from a moment and onto my senses during everyday situations. I might set an alarm to remind me to practice.

Each time, I will take a few belly breaths like in the standard breathing exercise and I will mentally scan through each of my senses.

  1. What can I hear right now?
  2. What can I see right now?
  3. What can I touch/feel right now?
  4. What can I taste right now?
  5. What can I smell right now?

I will spend a moment on each sense, making myself aware of what I am sensing right now. Then I will turn my attention back to my day.

If my thoughts wander back to my day during this exercise, I will watch the thoughts pass through my mind and I will say to myself… “I am here, sensing the world.

Once I have a bit of practice with turning my attention away from the day and onto my senses for a while, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from unhelpful thoughts or moments of distress.

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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. 

No. 101: Stretching Distraction

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

…I will practice stretching to distract myself from the present moment and lift my energy.

Once a day I will spend a few minutes doing some basic yoga stretches. As I do them I will practice mindfully focusing my attention on the movements I am making and the way they feel in my body. I will practice letting thoughts of the day pass through my mind as I observe them and bring my mind back to my stretches.

  1. Neck Roll: Standing up, relax your shoulders, drop your head forward to rest your chin on your chest. Slowly roll your head to rest your right ear on your right shoulder, pause, return to centre then slowly roll your head to rest your left ear on your left shoulder, pause, return to centre. Repeat.
  2. Shoulder and Arm Rotation: Stretch your arms out to the side and imagine you are pushing apart two walls. Repeat three times. Keeping the arms at shoulder level, rotate the shoulders forwards and then backwards. Repeat three times. Slowly drop arms to the side and observe the sensation produced in your body.
  3. Swaying Tree pose: Standing with your feet at hip-width, reach your arms above your head, clasp your hands together, exhale and lean gently to the left. Inhale and come back to centre. Then exhale and lean to the right. Repeat.
  4. Cat Pose: Kneel on all fours with hands shoulder distance apart and your knees the same distance apart. Exhale while arching your back up and looking down at your belly. Hold for a few seconds. Inhale as you arch your back down and lift your head.

Once I am familiar with doing stretches as part of my ordinary day, I will add them to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of distracting myself from distressing moments and times of stress and tension. When I notice I am feeling tense, I can take myself away from present company for a moment and practice my stretches. 

No. 96: Learning a Theme Song

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

…I will use music to help me improve the moment and connect with positive emotion by learning to hum or whistle a song I associate with happy vibes and good energy.

If no song jumps to mind automatically I will get to spend some time listening to different songs until I find one I like.

Then as I move through my day, I will periodically remember to practice humming or whistling the tune while I am doing my daily tasks. This could help to insert some pleasant energy into whatever I am doing.

Once I am comfortable and familiar with humming or whistling my tune, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a distraction and self-soothing technique for times of stress and distress.

Then, when I find myself stressed or distressed, I can distract myself for a moment by trying to remember the tune and whistling/humming it. The act of humming and whistling changes the level of oxygen in the blood and can physically help to soothe negative emotions I could be feeling, so I can return to the situation later with a clearer head. Whenever I hum or whistle my tune, I will be reminded of the positive message of the song I chose and this might also help inspire me through tough moments.

This is also a pretty good strategy to use if I ever feel so anxious that it gets hard to breathe. Humming or whistling a song could help to counteract that without having to focus my attention onto my breathing.

No. 94: Moving to a New Space

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

…I will practice mindfully distracting myself from stressful or distressing thoughts and feelings by moving to a different location and observing and describing my new location to myself. I might move to a different room, go outside or walk to a local park or anywhere that is different.

I give myself permission to return to my distressing thoughts later, when I am feeling calmer, if I still want or need to.

I will spend at least five minutes looking around me. Instead of focusing on my inner world, I will focus on my outside world. I will actively look around my new space and centre my thoughts on what is around me and where I am, rather than what I feel or think about myself, other people or my life. As my mind tries to come back to those things, I will gently return my thoughts to the space I am now in without judgement. I feel whatever I feel, right now I am here. 

If this kind of thing is unfamiliar to me, I will start by practicing this when I am not stressed or distressed. Once this starts to feel like a comfortable thing to do, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as something to try when I am needing to improve the moment.

 

No. 80: Observing Myself as Part of Nature

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

…I will practice mindful distraction by going outside and observing myself as part of nature. This week, the first thing I will do once I have woken up in the morning and gotten dressed, is to take a moment to go outside where I can see at least some aspect of the natural world. For the next few minutes I will let whatever concerns I might have for the coming day fade into the distance where I can catch them up later if I still need to. I will focus my awareness on the way the clouds and air move, the way the plant-life grows, the way water flows or settles – everything falling into its shape.

As I make myself aware of these elements of nature, I will notice myself standing or sitting there, as part of this environment. Here I am, connected to the world. 

Doing this regularly, when I am not distressed, will help me make strong associations with the strategy so it is easier to do it when I need it. It’s also just a pretty nice way to start the day. In preparation for when I need to distract myself from unnecessary distress, once a day, I will…

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence….You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”  [From The Desiderata, Max Ehrmann, 1927] 

Once I am comfortable doing this task as part of a regular day, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for mindfully distracting myself from distressing emotions and unwanted thoughts.