Another great technique that I like to use with my clients is the safe calm space - it is a visualization exercise. So for this one, you're going to close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel safe, relaxed, comfortable. For a lot of people, that place is a beach. You're going to be there and you're going to use all your senses. So you close your eyes and the first thing that you feel, what is it? Is it warm sand on your feet? What kinds of things are you seeing? Are there other people there? Are you alone? What kind of sounds do you hear? Is it crashing waves on the shore? What kinds of tastes do you feel? Do you feel the taste of the beach, of the ocean, is it saltiness? What kinds of smells come up for you while you are there? Is it the smells of the ocean? This is a great place for you to go every time you are stressed, anxious, or struggling with situations - it's a calm place for you to be.
A great breathing exercise that I encourage clients to do is the 4-7-8. Four: you're going to inhale: 1, 2, 3, 4. You're going to hold it for seven: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. And then you're going to let it out from eight: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. This is a great technique for those struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression and it is a great relaxation technique. If you have children and they struggle with anxiety and they need some breathing techniques as well, there's a great exercise called the starfish: you tell the child to open their hands wide like a starfish and then they're going to trace with their other finger - each finger. As they go up, they inhale. As they go down, they exhale. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. And they can do it about four times, three times - as many times as you think that it will help them - usually three times and they're tired. This is a great exercise to teach them to also start regulating their emotions as well. I hope you give it a try.
Making life decisions is naturally anxiety-provoking and stressful. However, you can feel more secure in your life decisions by taking a few steps: the first step that's important to start with would be to hone into your own personal values. Think about the values that guide your life and think about how this decision can fit with those values. Maybe you get a new job opportunity in a different state, but that would take you further away from your family and you really value being around your family. That's an important value to consider in this decision-making process. Second, it's very important to think about all the different options that you could possibly take when making a decision - even the ones that feel dumb or that you're definitely not going to do - consider those. Then list out all the pros (the positives) to making a certain decision and the cons (the negatives) to making a certain decision. You can look at all of these laid out and that can make you feel more comfortable that you're really thinking through this decision thoroughly. Lastly, it's very important to remember that there's no perfect decision in life ever and that every decision is going to come with positives and negatives. Having some compassion for yourself and making decisions is challenging but it really helps you to feel more secure and understanding of yourself when you're having some trouble making decisions in life.
Journaling is a great tool that I encourage my clients to use. Journaling works sort of like a diary except that you want to in there include all the feelings that you struggled with throughout the day. So for example, if you had a hard day at work, what did it feel like for you? What kind of feelings did it bring up for you? The other thing about journaling is that it's important to develop some sort of routine with it - so maybe it will be something that you do before bedtime. You prepare a nice cup of tea and this will be a bedtime thing that you do. It's part of self-care. The great thing about journaling is that it allows you to process all of the emotions. So for those who struggle with traumatic events, it really allows them to process those traumatic events. So there are a lot of great things about journaling. I hope this encourages you to start one.
Some of the great tools that I encourage my clients to use are breathing techniques (which helps those who struggle with anxiety), journaling (which is a great source to relieve some emotional tension), meditation (you don't have to do 20 minutes on the first time, you can start with one minute a day and there are some good apps out there that help you with that), exercise (it's great for your health and it's also great to release some tension), and last but not least, the support network (the use of a support network is very important and it will help you thrive and live a healthier life.
Being present means listening with purpose. Imagine showing up - not just physically but also emotionally and with all of your senses for your partner and most importantly - for yourself. Imagine those simple tasks, how much better they will look when you, for example, wash the dishes and you feel the warmth of the water in your hands or smell soap. Or even better, each morning when you prepare your coffee and you grind those beans and you can smell the coffee about to start getting ready and then you pour yourself a cup of coffee and you feel the warmth in your hands. Imagine each thing being able to enjoy it with all of your senses. Well, that is the magic of being present and how it brings happiness into your life. This is something that you can do with every activity you have each day. Nowadays, we focus so much in technology and we've missed this - enjoying the here and now of each day. Why don't you try it?