6 Weeks to Mindfulness: Week 4

Building on our foundation.

Mindfulness is great for anxiety management, anger management, and other emotional regulation because it teaches us to be aware of our thoughts, or feelings, our behaviors. We can notice our experiences without responding to them. And, by practicing when we are already calm, we're able to more quickly recall these nonjudgmental skills in a frustrating moment. 

Sit, breathe, and notice.

These are the foundations of mindfulness. So for today, I'd like to build on these skills with some muscle work, bringing more awareness to our body.

In a comfortable seated position, let your hands rest on your knees. Begin with a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

When you notice that you breathing is slow and steady, and your heart feels calm, we'll move to a laying down position on your floor. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

As an aside, this is a great practice if your child ever has trouble falling asleep at night.

Moving to each muscle group, be sure to notice the difference between the tension and the relaxation. 

Laying down on the floor - or, if you're practicing this with your child before bedtime, laying on their bed - close your eyes. Then, begin with your toes. Curl them up and tense your feet, like they're squishing in mud. Curl them tight, tight, tight... and then let them release.

Next, move to your legs. Tighten your calves and hold for a few beats... and then let those muscles release and soften.

Then, the backs of your thighs. Tense them really tight for three, two, one... and let them loosen, noticing that big difference between tense and loose.

Tighten your stomach and abdominal muscles for three, two, one... and then loosen.

Next, pull your shoulders up to your ears, really tense and tight for three counts, and then let them drop and settle back down.

Take your biceps and forearms and tighten them, like you're lifting weights, tight tight tight... and loosen.

Shape your hands into tight fists, holding them for three counts... and then let all of your fingers relax. You can even shake them out a little bit.

Finally, take your face, squishing up all of those facial muscles for five counts, four, three, two, and one. 

This week, pay attention to when your muscles are tightening on their own accord, and if this happens when you're feeling stressed, frustrated, angry, or anxious. And while you may not have time to move to each muscle group on its own, focus on tensing and then relaxing those parts of your body.

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 and she serves clients from Brentwood, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Town and Country, Creve Couer, and surrounding areas..