The American Psychological Association (APA) offered insight into five science-based strategies to manage stress, specifically for healthcare professionals due to the demands on those professionals throughout the pandemic. The second strategy is “Focus Yourself”.
The APA suggests counting backwards from 100 by threes: This exercise can slow your thoughts, distract your mind, and challenge it in a way that disrupts your current thought patterns. This can allow you to then return to your previous activity with a fresh mind, ready to make decisions.
What Is Mindfulness
Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” The good news is, everyone has an innate mindfulness ability, but practice makes the ability stronger. This purposeful presence and attention practice can help you re-focus yourself and stay focused even in the most stressful of situations. Below are some basic mindfulness exercises to help you develop your abilities.
- Watch Your Movie – Pay attention to your surroundings and what you are experiencing at this moment and pretend you have to explain what is happening to someone else with as much detail as possible. Learning to pay attention to detail at this level can help you be more present and engaged pulls you out of the ‘autopilot’ most people seem to live on.
- Breathing Exercises – Take a look at yesterday’s blog to learn some breathing exercises that can also help with your mindfulness development
- Body Scan – Multiple times a day when you have a moment of downtime, don’t grab your phone or some other distraction, scan your body for pain, part by part, and focus your breath on any pain that you find.
- Chores – When faced with a chore you don’t do well or just don’t want to do at all, remove distractions, focus on the chore, visualize the outcome, think about how you will feel when it is done and done well. Then, during the process, consider ways you could improve that process, try alternate ways of doing things, and when you are done, take the time to appreciate the outcome and your hard work
- Mindful Gratitude – At the end of each day, think about the day you had, who you met, what you accomplished, obstacles you overcame, and focus on all of the things you have to be thankful for during that day. You can do this in your head or record it in a journal, but this helps you focus on the positives and forces you to make time to appreciate the good things