Shared by Erin Matthews, LSW
Student Assistance Program Liason
The COAD Group
Coping Skills Home Practice: Mindfulness, Part One
Benefits of Mindfulness: The unknown can cause us to feel stressed, anxious, and filled with questions about what the future holds. Additionally, sometimes our minds might feel stressed or worried about situations from the past, as we rethink what we could have said or done differently. Being mindful helps us to keep our focus on the present moment. When we allow our mind to be fully aware of the present moment, we can prevent our stress from rising to a high level. Practicing mindfulness when we are feeling heightened anxiety can help us to feel more calm and relaxed. When we are calm we can think more clearly and choose healthy ways to manage our stress.
Exercise One: The Five senses. One way to bring ourselves into the present is to use our five senses
- Sit down in a comfortable position, and take a deep breath
- Focus your attention on your breath, putting any thoughts of the past or future on hold. Whenever you find your thoughts wondering to anything but the present, take notice of that thought and focus back on your breath.
- Where are you sitting now? Take a moment to think only about the setting you are currently in. Are you indoors or outdoors? What room are you in? Are you in your yard or neighborhood?
- What do you see? Focus your attention on your sense of sight. Look around, and take notice of 5 things you see. If your thoughts wonder, take notice of your thought and then bring your focus back to what you see.
- What do you hear? Focus your attention on your sense of sound. Listen carefully. Close your eyes or look down. Take notice of 4 things you hear.
- What do you feel? Focus your attention on your sense of touch. Take notice of 3 things you can feel right now in this moment.
- What do you smell? Focus your attention on your sense of smell. Take notice of 2 scents you smell right now in this moment.
- What do you taste? Focus your attention on your sense of taste. Take notice of whether or not you can taste anything in this moment. This sense may not be fitting for all settings.
For Middle School and High School students:
“My Calm Place” card deck combines yoga, meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery activities to calm emotions and promote self-regulation. Practice strategies from “My Calm Place” card deck:
- “Sensing the outdoors”: Imagine the sounds you would hear outdoors. If you are already outdoors in your neighborhood or yard, look around and take notice of what you hear… birds singing, leaves rustling, the wind. Notice if you can smell the scent of the trees, flowers, freshly cut grass, etc. See flowers blooming, trees swaying in the breeze, squirrels or rabbits scurrying. Take notice of the little things in nature you might have missed if weren’t being mindful to the moment.
- “Full Attention Walking”: Walk, focusing on your feet. Notice how your foot hits the ground. First heel, then the ball of your foot, and then toes. Bring your attention into each step. Watch your thoughts come and go, as you focus intently on walking.
- “Look Quietly”: Use your sense of sight to quiet down. Pick and object and focus on it fully. Turn away and look at it again. Focus on the details you may have missed. Slow down your mind with your sense of sight.
For Middle and High School students:
“Growing Mindful” card deck provides unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness and curiosity. Practice strategies from “Growing Mindful” card deck
- “When is My Mind”: Take one minute and count on your hands how many times your mind wanders to the past, to the future, or somewhere else. Then return to the present for a rest.
- “Color by Number”: Look out the window and notice what is alive. Find and count each shade of green in your field of vision.
- “Unmoving Mind”: Scan your view for something that is perfectly still. Allow your vision and mind to settle and become as still as that object.
Positive Coping Strategies/Fun Activities: Choose a few activities you would like to do this week...
- Listen to music mindfully
- Go for a walk, run or bike ride
- Lie down and look at the clouds, find different shapes
- Draw, Paint
- Play in instrument
- Spend some time outdoors, enjoy nature
- Spend time with a pet
- Play a game
- Write a story about a fun memory you have
- Send a card or letter to a friend or family member (through the mail)
- Practice a sport outside
- Make a meal for your family
- Practice deep breathing, relaxation techniques
- Listen to Guided Meditation
- Write something you are grateful for each day
- Send a thank you note or card
- Call a friend or family member (on the phone) just to say hi
- Practice an instrument and then record yourself playing; share with family and friends
- Play a game with friends or family through video chat
- Organize or clean your room
- Watch a funny movie
- Send a video message instead of a text
- Draw or color a picture and send a “picture card”…“Thinking of You”, “Happy Birthday,”etc.
- Imagine a goal you have for your future, write a story (with you as the main character) achieving that goal
Practice mindfulness exercises