When you are struggling with difficult emotions or situations, here are my “Top Five” strategies to bring you back to the “here and now”.
Breathing is always the best place to start your self-regulation practice. Breathing is the one human function that is both conscious and sub-conscious and has the unique ability (when controlled) to elevate or calm a human. You breath in and out about twenty thousand times a day, but how many breaths are you consciously aware of?
Try this simple box breath..
Inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four. Repeat four times.
One more trick? If you wish to elevate your energy…extend the inhale for a couple of seconds longer than the exhale. If you wish to calm your energy…extend the exhale a couple of seconds longer than your inhale!
The “5-4-3-2-1” tool is a simple yet effective method for regaining control and focuses on your senses.
Begin by looking around and identifying 5 things that you can see. Take your time and take at least one breath between steps. Next, identify four things you can hear, three things you can feel – which can be anything from your feet in your shoes to a ring on your finger, then two things you can smell. And finally, one thing you can taste – which can even be your tongue as long as you can taste it.
Just this moment Gratitude
One of my ‘go-to’ ways to settle my lizard brain, is to find three things that I can be grateful for right now. Gratitude is not always easy and sometimes we have to stick to the basics. What ever it takes, consciously acknowledge three small things that you have today.
Full Body Scan
A full body scan sounds complicated but it is actually one of the simplest strategies to do. Most importantly, emotions and difficult experience rest in your body, so this is a practical practice that can keep you sane and help
to maintain your health. Find a comfortable and preferably quiet place to sit and focus on your body. You can begin with a few deep breaths. Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.
Finally, my absolute favorite mindful strategy of all time… Mindful Chocolate
Find a small (bite size piece) of chocolate, preferably wrapped. This does not HAVE to be chocolate, it can be any ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ treat that you absolutely adore, as long as it is something that feels decadent and satisfying at the same time. Follow these steps, no rushing, each step should last approximately one minute, but can be shortened in emergencies.
Look – take a moment to look at your treat, I mean really look. How has the wrapper been designed? Look at all angles, take a moment and actually acknowledge the work it took to design the package, the colours, the texture.
Touch – un-wrap the chocolate and place it in your hand. If the chocolate is milky it may melt a bit, do not judge, just observe. How does it feel in your hand?
Smell– Place your nose directly over the chocolate and take a long, slow, deep breath. What do you smell? Can you discern the different elements in the recipe?
Taste – But take your time. Rest the chocolate on your tongue. Without moving it at all, let your taste buds do their work.
Move the chocolate around your mouth. An advanced step might be to let it melt in your mouth, but at this point I think you deserve to chew.
I hope you can find some peace of mind in these strategies. Please connect and share if you have your own favorites!