Patterns and mindfulness strategy
Pay attention to your patterns or habits, they can be physical, mental and or emotional. Patterns will reveal your reactions to situations, giving you feedback on what works, versus what doesn’t work. When you are doing something that works, do a little more of it.
This is a mindfulness strategy that helps anyone suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, chronic pain, relationship problems, focus and attention issues, and painful memories and feelings.
Here’s a short example
A person who is suffering from depression is dealing with the symptoms: low energy; loss of concentration; low mood; feelings of hopelessness; lack of sleep; and change in appetite.
Their typical behavioral pattern is: they wake up and rush to get ready for work because they felt like they needed more sleep due to having trouble falling asleep at night. They know that they can make it to work on time if they skip breakfast, so they head out the door with just a coffee. At work, their day is as usual and they fight off the yawns. They have a lack of interest in their work. They dread certain parts of it and have difficulty concentrating. Afterwards, they drive home.
They prepare and eat dinner even though they don’t feel too hungry. Next, the person watches television while eating a few bites of dinner. As bedtime approaches, they play phone games and scroll through social media to help distract themselves from worrying about whether they will be able to sleep or not. Wrapping up their day, they get ready for bed and try to get some sleep.
By reflecting on their day-in-day-out patterns, they feel exhausted existing everyday with this routine. Some days, it feels like there is no hope. The person knows that they are simply trying to get through each day and that they aren’t addressing the symptoms or root cause of the depression.
Judging their patterns and feeling overwhelmed and stuck, they decide to reach out to a mental health counselor for support. With the counselor, they discuss everything that’s going on and what a few simple steps are to foster changes. Working with the counselor, they improved the depression symptoms, figured out better night time and morning routines, and are forming healthier habits. They talk through the root cause of the depression and go over additional support that’s available if it is ever needed.
Reviewing physical, mental and or emotional patterns can help increase mindfulness, so that you can take action. Change what doesn’t work and do more of what does work. Form new patterns or habits. Below are three questions to take action.
Ask yourself these questions, journal out your answers (spend about 5 minutes per day for the first two to three weeks working on this):
- Pay close attention to what happens when difficult thoughts and feelings arise – what do you do in reaction?
- Why do you keep doing what you do?
- What do you get from it?
It’s not always easy finding your patterns, solutions and making the adjustments, but stick with it. We go through several difficult and complex situations in life, so when necessary, talk with a counselor because they can support you through this process.
[Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT Deck) cards, purchased through Amazon.]
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