August’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

August’s Mindfulness Exercise:

We often wake up and jump into our day, picking up our train of thought where we left it the night before. It might be a negative train of thought; it might be one full of worries or a “to-do” list; it might be one that takes over our well-being for the rest of the day.

We can’t control what pops into our heads (if I tell you to think of a white elephant, good luck trying not to picture one!), but we can control where we go with our thoughts. This month’s mindfulness exercise is focused on our thoughts that start and end our day.

When you wake up in the morning, notice what thought firsts pops into your head. (For me, it’s usually what I’ll be eating for breakfast). Leave yourself a post-it note next to your bed with a thought you’d like to start your day with – maybe it’s a quote, or something you’re grateful for, or something you are looking forward to during the day. Notice where your thoughts go after reading the post-it, and pay attention to how this impacts the rest of your day.

At the end of the day, take another moment to notice your thoughts before you go to sleep. Consider what is lingering on your mind from the day, and what thought you’d like to end the day with (if you’re stuck, think of something small you are grateful for that occurred during the day). Consider what thought you might want to start tomorrow with before you drift into sleep.

Most of our thoughts are the same, day to day. But in practicing mindfulness about our thoughts, particularly at the beginning and end of our days, we can control the train of thought with which we start the day!

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

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Perspectives Monthly Journal Exercise – April

Journaling can be a therapeutic exercise.  In therapy, Johanna may encourage you to journal or keep a diary in a specific way, to raise awareness of specific activities, thoughts, or feelings.  This monthly journal exercise is in no way individually prescribed, but meant to offer food for thought that may be useful for anyone.

April’s monthly journal exercise:

Spring is coming!  As we head towards a change in the seasons, what are you looking forward to?  Take five minutes to write down your thoughts on this time of transition in the natural world, and what aspects of the coming season you may feel grateful for.  If you start to feel stuck, spend a few minutes outside – even if it’s walking up and down the block to breathe in the fresh air of a new season.  Write down what you notice, using your five senses, if you need help getting started.

 

On Gratitude

Gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving day.  While you may have finished the leftover turkey and the last slice of pie, your practice of gratitude does not need to be over.

If you need some assistance in increasing your awareness of gratitude, try answering a few of these 50 Questions to Foster Gratitude.  I went through them and surprised myself with some of the things I came up with!  If you’re feeling really ambitious, maybe even tell a few people what you’re grateful for, or thank them for something they’ve done for you.

I’m that person who likes to have everyone share what they’re grateful for at the Thanksgiving table.  Does this always happen?  No.  It can be hard to name and share with others your appreciation.  But gratitude does not always have to be big, perfect, or life-changing.  The other day I was grateful for a working hairdryer on a cold and rainy day.  Yesterday I found appreciation in a really great song on the radio that fit my mood.

So, what are you grateful for today?

Perspectives Monthly Journal Exercise

Journaling can be a therapeutic exercise.  In therapy, Johanna may encourage you to journal or keep a diary in a specific way, to raise awareness of specific activities, thoughts, or feelings.  This monthly journal exercise is in no way individually prescribed, but meant to offer food for thought that may be useful for anyone.

June’s monthly journal exercise:

For a week, write down one thing every day for which you are grateful.  Pick a time of day – maybe even set an alarm to remind yourself – and jot down either a sentence or just a word to describe your gratitude.  This can be something big (ie. my family) or something very small (ie. the smell of a new flower in bloom).  Try to get in the habit of doing this every day for a week, and take a moment at the end of the week to notice how you feel when you do this exercise.