6 Weeks to Mindfulness: Week 2

Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation.

Mindfulness is helpful when it comes to noticing what's going on, without having to immediately react to things. We can train our brains to recognize feelings we experience, before those feelings take over. And, when we recognize when we're feeling just a little bit anxious, or a little bit angry, it's a lot easier to calm down than when we're all the way at the top of our anxiety or anger levels.

Week 2: Body Scan

It's important to teach your child their personal cues that they experience anger, anxiety, frustration, sadness, etc. Everybody has a slightly different physical experience of these emotions. And before you teach your child, it's important to notice these in yourself!

The process:

For your body scan, pick 2 or 3 emotions you would like to target. When teaching the children and teens I work with, I usually let them decide what emotions are important to cover. Typically, they'll pick along the lines of anger, sadness, or fear. I like to suggest that the final emotion you scan for is happiness, compassion, love, or another emotion that can feel a little more positive and less intimidating than the others. 

Starting with the first emotion you pick, bring to mind a situation that caused you to feel this way. Include details - what happened, when, how. Remember how you reacted. 

Now with that situation in your mind, scan your body for the places where you notice these feelings. Start with your head... any physical sensation? Move down to your neck, shoulders, arms, hands... Then check in with your lungs and chest, your heart... Stomach... Moving down to your thighs, then your shins, and your feet.

Anywhere you notice this emotion, stay with it for a moment. See if you can add more physical characteristics to this emotional experience. Does it feel smooth or jagged? Hot or cold? Big or small? Is it difficult or uncomfortable to stick with this emotion?

When you're ready, move on to your second and/or third emotion, using the same process as above. Finally, end with a positive emotion, and notice the difference between each.

By becoming aware of where we carry these feelings in our body, we can become more in tune with those slight twinges of emotion that come up. And we can be more mindful of how to handle these emotions as they arise.

If you'd like to know more about how mindfulness can help with anxiety and anger management, you may contact Kelsey at compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation. Kelsey is a licensed clinical social worker in the St. Louis area. Her practice, Compassionate Counseling St. Louis, is located in Webster Groves, Missouri.