The holidays is one of the most joyful times of the year but it can also be one of the most stressful. Depression sufferers often experience increased difficulties and even day to day normal activities can feel ridden with anxiety.
Today is the first of a series of blog posts by Mark de Teliga – one of L&L’s coaches and a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist.
In this series, Mark will provide you with direction, tips and tools to help get you through the silly season and even help your productivity at work too. We start with an exercise that can benefit everyone.
Your first anxiety relief tip is a simple three minute mindfulness meditation.
You can do this mindfulness technique at any time during the next 24 hours:
Set the timer on your phone for three minutes. (If you have an iphone, use the built-in timer app. It’s utilities > clock > timer.)
Lie on your back on your bed with your eyes closed.
The focus of your attention for three minutes is going to be sounds.
Just listen for any sounds you can hear for three minutes.
When you notice your attention drifting to anything else (which will happen!), gently bring your attention back to sounds. Do this with self-kindness and without self-criticism. Likewise, if you notice yourself having evaluative thoughts about the sounds you’re hearing (e.g., you notice yourself having the thought “that lawnmower is really annoying”) bring your attention back to just listening to the moment to moment changes in the sounds.
As you listen, don’t go looking for sounds, just allow any sounds to rise up into your awareness and then be replaced by awareness of other sounds whenever this naturally happens.
You may feel relaxed while you’re doing this, or you may not. Either way it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a relaxation exercise, it’s a technique for helping your cognitive functioning become more fluid and less sticky.
You’re practicing allowing sensations to rise up into your awareness and then pass through. Over time, the more you practice this, the more you’ll be able to let anxiety-related thoughts arrive and then pass – without the thoughts triggering “rumination” (overthinking).
You’re also practicing operating your brain in experiential processing mode, rather than evaluative processing mode. It’s very healthy for people who are prone to anxiety to practice using experiential mode more.
Mark de Teliga is a practicing Psychologist & Psychotherapist as well as a mentor for Legends & Leaders in the Agency/Account Management module. Introduction by Adrianne Nixon, Founder of Legends & Leaders.