Mindfulness with 5 Senses

One of the aims of my Mindfulness Matters group is to provide people with accessible, fool proof tools to help them ground in the present moment so that they can eradicate the inner critic, paralyzing self judgments, and gain the sense of empowerment they need to make the best choices about how to react to what pops up in their lives. Today, I wanted to share one of these tools with you. This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring us into a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two or, for whatever reason, you don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan, this five senses exercise can help you bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.

Use this exercise to quickly ground yourself in the present when you only have a moment. The goal is to notice something that you are currently experiencing through each of your senses. Begin by making sure you are seated or lying comfortably enough that you can relax, yet still upright enough that you can focus on the following questions. As you go through this set of questions, allow yourself to become immersed in each experience before moving on to the next question.

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

The numbers for each sense are only a guideline. Feel free to do more or less of each – remember to make modifications with Mindful awareness. You can also listen to a guided audio version of this exercise with my “Beyond the Couch” podcast episode easily. 

I would love to hear how this went for you! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

 

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Celebrate Your ‘Social Brain’ with Group Therapy!

Recently, I spent some time talking about GROUPS with Katie K. May of Creative Healing Philly. Katie K. May is a DBT Certified, Licensed Therapist for Teens in Pennsylvania.  She specializes in running groups for teens who experience anxiety, depression and self-harm behaviors, with a passion in helping clients learn to express and cope with overwhelming emotions in healthy ways so that they can move forward in life EMPOWERED and able to create their own path to happiness.

In our discussion, Katie and I explored the ways that our group connections help us to build a life we want to celebrate. In fact, groups have helped people excel in work place dynamics, school related tasks, as well as family functions. Katie shares some top tips for connecting in group therapy, below, and debunks some myths about getting started with groups.

Katie’s Top Tips:

+Our interpersonal relationships are one of the most powerful predictors of both our mental and physical health.  People are happier and healthier, with lower rates of depression and greater overall happiness when they are connected socially.

+Take advantage of the “social brain!”  We are by nature social creatures and are strongly influenced by what happens around us in our world.  Be mindful of whom you surround yourself with and the choices these people are making as you are likely being swayed by their thoughts and behaviors too.

+Practicing gratitude for the people in your lives, how they have impacted you and why they are important to you can help you feel more connected and accepted socially.  Each day reflect on something you appreciate about your loved ones and what you appreciate about this person.  At the end of the week, find some way to connect face-to-face to express this gratitude and notice how your own mood improves as a result.

I would love to hear what thoughts you have about the ways groups can help you celebrate your life! In fact, I frequently hear from “graduates” of my groups that they have gone on to silence their inner critics and surrounded themselves with people who uplift them so that they can overcome anxious, debilitating thoughts and overwhelming depression and isolation. As a result, they’ve begun to reshape the celebratory lives they have been looking to build! Be sure to share with us your hopes and goals for groups in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

Assert Yourself – And Enhance Your Relationships

I recently connected with Dr. Julie Hanks for the “Beyond the Couch” podcast to talk about assertiveness tips. Dr. Hanks is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in women’s emotional health and relationships. She is the founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, author of The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women, a blogger, a local and national media contributor, an online mental health influencer, a life coach and a private practice consultant, and an award-winning performing songwriter. To learn more visit DrJulieHanks.com or connect with @drjuliehanks on social media.

Dr. Hanks and I discussed the ways that our relationships can actually be strengthened with assertiveness so that we can go on to connect in more loving, fulfilled ways with our loved ones. She shared three top tips for asserting ourselves in relationships:

1) Before you can be assertive ask yourself these four questions about the situation:

  • What do I think?
  • What do I feel?
  • What do I want?
  • What do I need?

2) OSCAR Assertiveness Tool

  • O – Observe the Situation
  • S – Sort Thoughts and Feelings
  • C – Compassionately communicate
  • A – Ask Clarifying Questions
  • R – Request Directly

3) When Communicating Choose the “Lantern Stance”

There are three communication stances: doormat (passive), sword (aggressive or passive aggressive), and the lantern.Imagine yourself standing with your feet shoulder width apart, centered and balanced, holding up a lantern as high as you can reach illuminating the situation. Envision yourself standing up straight, feeling strong and not easily swayed. Imagine inviting the person you are interacting with to step into the lantern’s light with you and ask this person to describe his or her experience and perspective.

Dr. Hanks explains that many people fear that asserting their needs will jeopardize their relationships. She goes on to describe how the five steps in asserting ourselves actually serve to improve our relationships with our loved ones.

You can access a free chapter of Dr. Hanks’ Assertiveness Guide for Women at assertivenessguide.com.

You can also listen to our discussion here. Be sure to let me know what you discovered as you tried these tips.

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you celebrate? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

 

Feeling Fatigued??

For many of us, there is often a feeling of giving and sharing so much of ourselves that there may be a chronic sense of fatigue, depression, or even anxiety. In particular, there are those of us that are giving so much of our empathy and compassion on a constant basis that we may be experiencing compassion fatigue.

While it can be so meaningful for us to share and give of ourselves in this way, it can leave us feeling too depleted, drained, and out of sorts to continue to do so – or even to continue on in our regular activities as before. This is what can make compassion fatigue so difficult.

Jennifer Blough’s The Compassion Fatigue Podcast addresses this same issue. When she reached out to me to discuss the ways that Reiki can help us through this dilemma, I was excited to share information. Reiki can be such a powerful tool in helping us to rebalance our physical, emotional, and psychological needs – which are the things that compassion fatigue depletes.

You can access more information about compassion fatigue here. If you find the show valuable, please feel free to share it with others, rate, review, and subscribe. That way, more people who need it can benefit from it. You can also read more about Reiki here and listen to my overview of it here as well.

What was your top takeaway from the show? Share your thoughts and reactions in our Facebook and Twitter communities!

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Exploring the Impact of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a buzzword that’s gotten a lot of attention over the last few years, but not many people really get a full understanding of what it is. The benefit of this is that a lot of awareness has been brought to this powerful exercise. And yet, unfortunately, much of the important components of it have become overlooked in the shuffle. Because of this, many people have an incomplete and partial understanding of Mindfulness. In the “Beyond the Couch” podcast, along with this multi-part blog post series, I set out to help bring to light much of the scientific backing to how and why Mindfulness works to benefit us. In particular, the way Mindfulness can impact us and help us to work through the various disruptions and stressors in our lives can really bring a deeper level of benefit, growth, and enduring change as we redefine and recreate our lives.

With things changing in our lives, even when that change is internal, we might be feeling a bit restless and stuck in a rut. You may be finding yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed and rundown. In fact, you might even feel this in your physical body where you may be having a hard time catching your breath and feel your muscles tightened and clenched. Maybe you are feeling rushed from one thing to the next without a moment to slow your racing mind down. You’re even catching yourself walking into a room and don’t even know why. Or, you find yourself looking for your cup of coffee and realize it has been in your hand while you’re frantically searching for it. You may have even had an entire conversation with someone and realize that you have no idea what you just talked about. It may even have gotten to a point that things have become so frazzling that, more and more, you’re finding yourself reactive without knowing what set you off and you are just having a hard time focusing on what you are trying to do.

You wish you could find a way to just clear your head, de-stress, refocus, and find your footing again.

With a brief and consistent Mindfulness practice, you can find simple ways to get yourself feeling more focused, alert, and calm again so that you can get into a productive and meaningful mindset. This way, you are ready to tackle all of the things you are juggling from a state that can help you make the best choices for your meaningful, fulfilled life.

Mindfulness refers to a practice that focuses on awareness of the present experience without judgment and without attachment or reactivity. This allows our mind to be calm and peaceful so that we can have greater clarity and even increase happiness, peace, and decrease discomfort.

It tends to be difficult for most people to control their mindset – we often feel as if our thoughts are maintained by external circumstances. As we build our Mindfulness practice, we can more easily maintain awareness and control of our thoughts and mindset. To understand this, we will explore a concept called neuroplasticity – or, the changing nature of our brain.

Generally, our brain is looking to proactively solve future problems and rework past issues so that, when they arise again, it is best prepared to quickly and efficiently resolve them. This, however, keeps us from being fully immersed in the present moment.

Not only this, but our mind does not see a distinction between a past, future, or present stressor. It gets us to react to past and future stressors with stress in the here and now. To our mind, it’s all the same. As a result, overthinking, worrying, depressive thoughts, and anxiety elicit the stress response of fight, flight, and freeze. Over time, this can make us vulnerable to mental health issues.

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the size of the amygdala, which is our brain’s center for fear and negative emotions. This is important because it also helps to reduce the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Overall, shifting our state in this way helps us to respond in more productive ways to the things going on in our lives. There is a further cumulative effect of this benefit in that it first allows us to participate in our lives in ways that allow us to build confidence, self-efficacy, and more meaningful relationships. Furthermore, as we will explore in Part II of this series, Mindfulness practice on a consistent basis facilitates creating and building more positive and adaptive neuronal connections while simultaneously dissolving the older, less helpful neuronal connections.

I look forward to further elaborating on the impact of Mindfulness on our neuronal connections, neuroplasticity, and overall state next week!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!  

Connect with me to see what support I can offer!

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“Beyond the Couch” Explores the Benefits of Group Therapy!

The newest episode of the “Beyond the Couch” podcast is here!

Today, we look at the benefits of group therapy, different formats of group therapy, and how we can gain the most benefit from group therapy. You can listen to the episode here!

Don’t forget: If you missed the first few episodes, they are always available via iTunes, on my website, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and YouTube.

If you’ve found these episodes helpful in some way, please be sure to read a rating and review so that 1.) I know what helps you and 2.) so that others in the same boat can find what they need.

Enjoy these first few episodes before the next one on Thursday – we’ll be focusing on Mindfulness!

“Beyond the Couch” Is LIVE on iTunes!

I am very excited to share that the “Beyond the Couch” podcast is now LIVE on iTunes!

iTunes makes it easy to subscribe so you can get episodes downloaded immediately when they are released. I am including a short video on how to do that, below….

You can still listen on my website, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and YouTube also!

Please feel free to share as you find the episodes helpful as well.

How to subscribe to, rate, and review, a podcast on iTunes.