Three Minute Breathing Space

 

In a couple of recent posts, we looked at some things you can do to help stop stress and anxiety from becoming overwhelming, and to give yourself a breathing time out from stress, anxiety and depression. In this post, we look at the Three Minute Breathing Space, another great way to manage stress and anxiety, and to help your emotions from becoming overwhelming.

The Three Minute Breathing Space was developed as part of the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program for people with depression. Like the Breathing Time Out, it’s a way to bring your attention to the present, give yourself a break from whatever stress or emotions have been building up, and then return to the rest of your day, more refreshed and focused on the present.

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Take a Breathing Time Out

time outIn a recent post we looked at a couple of exercises you can use to help stop stress and anxiety from becoming overwhelming. Another technique you can use throughout the day to manage stress and anxiety, and to help keep strong emotions and feelings of depression and anger from becoming overwhelming, is to give yourself a Breathing Time Out.

Just as a time out can be an effective way to help children calm down when they are acting out and starting to get out of control, when our thoughts and emotions start getting carried away, a time out is a great tool to help calm ourselves.

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What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

zen meditationThe benefits you can experience from learning to become more mindful are virtually limitless. Mindfulness allows you to relate to and deal directly with whatever is happening in your life. Instead of struggling to escape, suppress or avoid distressing thoughts and feelings, mindfulness helps you approach whatever is going on in your life, in your thoughts, and with your emotions, without becoming overwhelmed.

When you start being more mindful and start living in the present moment, you’ll experience your life more fully, and become more in touch with yourself, who you are, what is important to you, and what you want out of life.

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Positive Psychology, Blessings and Three Good Things

A type of therapy called Positive Psychology, has been gaining popularity as research continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of positive psychology in helping people feel better and increase their well-being. Compared to many other approaches to therapy, positive psychology focuses less on identifying and fixing deficits, and more on recognizing and building on positives—looking at “What’s right with you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman writes:

We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.

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How to Reduce Stress at Work

stress work I was recently interviewed for an article in Inside Toronto about the stress caused by dealing with difficult people. Especially in the workplace, these difficult people and negative influences can create a great deal of stress.

I find that work stress is one of the most common reasons people come for counselling or therapy, and often the biggest source of stress is difficult bosses and co-workers.

In the article, I talk about a number of way to help reduce stress when faced with challenging interpersonal relationships and relieve the stress once it starts to build.

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Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulnessIn previous posts, we looked at the importance of giving ourselves time outs, as well as other techniques to manage stress and anxiety. Another great way we can keep things like stress, anxiety and depression from building throughout the day is to start bringing mindfulness into our everyday life.

We often talk about two broad categories of mindfulness practice. Formal mindfulness involves setting aside some time specifically for practicing mindfulness as we do when we engage in mindfulness meditation. Informal mindfulness, on the other hand, refers to finding ways to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives.

Since mindfulness simply involves paying attention to the present moment, mindfulness can be brought to anything we do. We can take a shower mindfully, shave and brush out teeth mindfully, eat mindfully, walk mindfully, drive mindfully, work on a computer mindfully, talk to people mindfully. Whatever it is we’re doing, we can do it mindfully.

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Positive Psychology and the Gratitude Journal

gratitudeHave you ever felt anxious and noticed yourself being extra vigilant, looking for any signs that something bad may be lurking nearby, on the lookout for all the things you might need to worry about?

This may seem like a good way to protect yourself from the things you’re anxious about, but it usually backfires. Since there is never any end to the list of “what ifs?” you can find to worry about, if you’re constantly looking out for things that could go wrong, you’ll usually find them, and this keeps you in a state of worry and anxiety.

Or have you ever been depressed, and found yourself focused on all of the negative things in your life, trying to figure out how they happened and how to solve them? Again, this sounds like a good way to fix what’s wrong in your life, but it often ends up making things worse. You keep finding more and more things to regret, more disappointments, more ways you don’t measure up to other people, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the negatives that keep adding up.

The more we’re on the lookout for something, the more likely we are to find it. But just as it is easy to find things to worry about or feel badly about when that’s what we’re focused on, it’s also easy to find some things to feel good about when that’s what we’re looking for and paying attention to.

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