If you are one of my clients, you know that I am always nagging you about taking a moment to pay attention to what is happening RIGHT NOW, not past, not future and also to do breathing exercises.
Both research and experience indicate that these two things are the first-line defenses against anxiety and depression, and help increase focus and memory.
So let's go over them again!
First, mindfulness, or paying attention to what is happening right now: Remember that anxiety and depression are thoughts and feelings about what's going to happen in the future or what has already happened in the past. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now in this exact moment?” and listen for the answer from your heart and body, not just your mind. Unless you are in the emergency room being tended to by surgeons, or you've just been kidnapped by aliens, or you have fallen down a manhole, you probably will answer, "I'm okay right in this moment. In this moment right now I am okay.” If so, spend a few seconds just paying attention to that. Really note what it feels like to feel OK, even just in this one moment. Do that as often as you can during the day. It trains your brain to be able to pay attention to what is going on right now and to recognize and store times when you felt OK instead of upset.
The second item, breathing or relaxation exercises, or sometimes I call it "mini-meditation" is about relaxing your body and turning on your parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system, often triggered by anxiety , turns on your fight or flight or freeze reactions . The parasympathetic system, in contrast, is your rest and digest system. That's the one you want to make stronger!
How do you make it stronger? By activating it many times during the day. And you do that through the breathing and relaxation exercises that we go over in sessions. Click here for a YouTube link that will remind you how to do the Progressive Muscle Relaxation one.
Remember that this is all about practice! It's like training a dog or building a muscle. The more that you do it when you're not upset, the easier it will be to activate when you are upset.
PRACTICE!! That's right---that's me yelling. Just practice! It will get easier. Life will get better.