Instructions for "Resisting the Myth of Progress'":
Measuring progress on a journey to good mental health is a tricky business. We want to feel like we are doing better, then, when we have a setback, or the recurrence of a 'symptom', it can be devastating. It feels like an incredible failure, like we have been thrust right back to square 1.
In truth, we never go back to square 1—the idea that life's journey follows a straight line is a myth, more often we move in zig-zags, swirls, and sometimes even circles. But we are always moving, we are never still. Going backwards is impossible, even if we find ourselves in the same place, the self perceiving the place has changed.
Try to be like your sat nav—when you take a wrong turn, your sat nav simply corrects the course. It doesn't call you an asshole or a failure, so why should you?
"I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy." - Marie Curie
Instructions for "Watching Traffic in Your Mind":
Anxiety and depression can make us focus more on the negative, or the problems in life. This extensive focus can make it seem as if life is all problems and very little joy.
You are stronger than anxiety or depression, because you have the ability to choose which thoughts to follow, and which to let pass. This exercise shows you how, and once you know, the key is to practice it and grow the muscle that allows you to choose.
Do this practice a couple of times a day for a minute or two at a time, and strengthen the muscle of choice.
"My mind is not my enemy. It is what I do with it and because of it that can hurt me." - Forsyth & Eifert
Instructions for "CALMing Your Impulses":
Impulses come and go, but only if we let them.
Many impulses are good for you, for example, your body will know when you're thirsty and alert you to get a drink of water. However, we also get impulses for things that are not so good for us, for example, the third piece of pie, or the second 'one for the road'. These impulses are not going to make life better, in fact they can have the opposite effect.
When you notice any urges or impulses that you don't want to act on, try this exercise and see how you feel afterwards. You may need to do it again, and again, but in the long run, the need will decrease over time.
* Practice adapted from Christopher Willard
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Instructions for "Truth or Fiction?":
Some researchers say that we have between 50,000 - 80,000 thoughts per day, and many of these are factual and helpful. For example we have thoughts like "there is no milk left, I will buy some on the way home", or "there is ice on the road, I will drive with caution". These thoughts allow us to navigate life safely and in comfort.
Other thoughts are not so helpful. For example, you are walking down the street and you see a good friend on the other side of the road. The moment you wave to her, she looks away and does not return your wave. Immediately your mind goes into overdrive: "What have I done to upset her?", or "She is mean and I will not call her again."
We cannot really know what is happening in another person's head, but we are very good at filling in the gaps with our own interpretations and stories. Often these interpretations and stories are inspired by our insecurities about ourselves, and lead us to see things in a more negative light than is necessary. For all we know, our friend could have been having a terrible day and have been so lost in thoughts that she didn't notice us, and our negative interpretations are holding us back from reaching out to her.
This also extends to ourselves. If I am feeling anxious, and then I tell myself stories such as: "I am feeling anxious, and that means there is something wrong with me, I am not as good as everyone else", then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. Anxiety is a common issue and there are ways to deal with it, berating yourself is not one of them!
"We can all become more aware of the "stream of consciousness" going on in our minds, moment by moment. It often takes the form of a running commentary. If it is potentially damaging to us, it is not because it is buried deep in the psyche but because it is virtually unattended. We have gotten so used to its whisperings that we don't even notice it is here. And so, it shapes our lives." - Williams, Teasdale, Segal, & Kabat-Zinn
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing legitimate tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
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