Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your internal and/or external environment, try the following coping skill, that has an acronym, S.T.O.P.:
S. Stop. Stop what you’re doing; put your device down; look up from your screen; pause if you’re moving (as long as it’s safe to do so).
T. Take a breath. I mean, really, fully. Fill your abdomen and lungs; breathe in deeply; exhale slowly and steadily.
O. Observe your surroundings. Take a quick inventory of your environment: use your five senses to connect. Now check-in with your internal environment. Do you need to stretch, eat some food, drink some water? How is your emotional state? How busy is your mind?
P. Proceed. Continue with whatever needs your attention next.
This is a quick way to take a break, check-in with yourself and carry on with your day.
Take a moment to breathe in deeply and breathe out fully. Most people don’t pay much attention to this essential component of living. Yet, the breath is perpetually with us, providing information to the brain and the body.
The breath interacts with the autonomic nervous system, which is composed of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system activates the body; it is sometimes referred to as the “fight, flight, freeze” system. When the brain registers danger, whether real or perceived, it sends messages to the sympathetic nervous system to prepare for action: increase heart rate, breathe shallower, etc. Alternatively, when someone is relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated; sometimes called the “rest and digest” system. When the brain registers absence of danger, it sends messages to the body to slow down the heart rate, deepen breathing, etc.
Since the breath is a function we can regulate, there is a simple technique that can be used to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and help the brain and body calm down. This can be especially useful if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or stressed. The instructions are written below. You may want to read through the text before trying it out or practice as your read.
I am delighted to share some exciting news with you! As of January 1st, I have begun serving as President of San Francisco's Chapter of California's Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (SF CAMFT). The organization serves about 500 members with offerings that include: access to a listserv, monthly training opportunities, social/networking events, a conference, a mentoring program, support for therapists-in-training, and more. I'm truly humbled and honored to be in this position in my professional community! Learn more about SF CAMFT here.
Many conversations I've had personally and professionally have led to discussing "self-compassion." It often lands heavily in people and a typical response is a lack of knowing how to be compassionate for oneself. Some of the most kind and generous people I know are the toughest on themselves.
Self-compassion may sound like an ominous or unrealistic feat, but perhaps it is possible to shift perspective, even a little. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as, "a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc." Adding the "self," I suggest the following definition: a feeling of wanting to take care of myself when I'm sick, hungry, in trouble, etc. This seems like it may be a slightly less daunting. Perhaps just the intention of wanting to help is enough.
Aspects of compassion may include feelings of generosity, honesty, patience, kindness, and tolerance. I wonder if some ease can be found if "self-compassion" is replaced in the mind by a gentle intention such as, "May I be patient with myself right now," or "May I tolerate myself in this moment." The invitation is for this to be a well-wish for yourself rather than an expectation or demand.
If you're interested in investigating this practice in your life, I suggest starting with something that isn't very difficult or intense.
Often, it is helpful to get support when learning new coping skills such as this one. Contact me for a free consultation or to set up an appointment.
Many of us feel very busy most, if not all of the time. Recently, a comment from a pre-teen jarred me a bit. "I'm sorry I haven't called you. I've been really busy." It was a little amusing and then I found myself thinking about how this young man hears adults in his life say this, and it may be true as well, that he is busy. How can adults model and help cultivate a sense of slowing down for themselves and the young people in their lives?
One idea is to have a moment of awareness at the start and end of each day. When the alarm goes off, check in with what the mind is up to right away. Do you pick up your device and start working or interacting with others immediately? Are you already in meetings and/or rushing through the day? Perhaps take a moment to realize that you're still in your bed. The invitation here is to take an intentional breath or two before you get out of bed and start your day.
When you land back in your bed at the end of the day, perhaps turn off your device and take a few deep, intentional, aware breaths before you close your eyes and rest.
These simple practices may help start and end your day with a moment of connection, with yourself.
Want to learn more and get support around slowing down and developing more balance in your life? Call or text me for a free consultation: 415-533-0405.
I was recently sent a link to the video below. I found it to be a quick and elegant example of the purpose and benefit of mindfulness practice. I also enjoyed the youth perspective.
What are your thoughts about mindfulness? Does the video help clarify what it might look like?
If you feel stressed, anxious, worried, or want to learn ways to be more relaxed and grounded in your life, email me now to set-up an appointment: email@example.com.
I feel delighted and honored to be presenting on mindfulness at The Lotus Collaborative in San Francisco on March 10th. This will be a networking opportunity for professionals as well experiential and practical tools!
Please check out the Facebook Event:
or contact me for more information! firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-533-0405
I feel excited and thrilled to announce a new group I've started through meetup.com, Mindfulness Skills Meetup. The focus of the group is to learn about mindfulness, practice some mindfulness skills and meet like-minded individuals. At this time, we will meet once a month. The group will be informal and is not a therapy group, nor does it substitute medical or mental health care.
Please click the link below to learn more:
You're welcome to contact me with any questions or if you'd like more information.
Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a group of parents at a high school here in San Francisco.
It was a privilege to meet some of the parents and get to share some knowledge and ideas about teens and self-esteem.
During the presentation, I spoke about adolescent brain development, using some of the information from Daniel J. Siegel's work. So much is going on in a teen's brain and body at the same time!
As a group, we brainstormed a definition for self-esteem, as well as qualities of high and low self-esteem.
I also shared with the group some components that contribute to self-esteem, such as the home environment, community and the teen's own thoughts, feelings and perceptions.
The presentation ended with some tips for parents on what they can do to help teens develop and access high self-esteem qualities.
I appreciated the participation and engagement of the parents, teachers and students who were in attendance. I am grateful to have been invited to speak.
I am hopeful I will have another opportunity to continue to connect with parents and teens at this and other high schools in San Francisco.
The past Sunday evening, CBS' 60 minutes featured a segment on mindfulness. Anderson Cooper, who is a well known news reporter, experienced first hand a three day mindfulness meditation retreat here in Northern California.
Leading up to the retreat, he interviewed Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and was the leading teacher at the retreat.
The dialogue between them seemed meaningful, real and inspiring.
Particularly, I appreciated Kabat-Zinn's comment about showering. He suggested to check out if when we shower, if we are really in the shower. Sometimes, we could be already working, or talking with family or friends. In the mind, this means that we are no longer present and no longer really in the shower.
If you're curious about mindfulness; if you're skeptical about it; if you're a seasoned practitioner, I highly recommend watching this segment.
Please share your thoughts, if you wish.