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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Beattie

Mindfulness; what the heck is it and why should you try it?

Mindfulness is the ability to be present and focused in the moment.

For some, this might be a way to manage rising anxiety in certain situations (i.e. social gatherings, pedestrian crosswalks), while for others it might be a way to refocus attention when the mind wanders to something non-productive (incessant worry about a global pandemic...). For me, sometimes it’s a way to keep myself from fidgeting at the end of a yoga class when the instructor leads the class to Savasana (Corpse pose), or a way to help me fall asleep when I can't stop running through endless "to do" lists in my mind.

I try to incorporate Mindfulness into my Occupational Therapy practice with all my clients, because it truly can benefit anyone.

My favourite approach for beginners is the quick and easy 5-4-3-2-1:

5: Things I can see

4: Things I can feel

3: Things I can hear

2: Things I can smell

1: Thing I can taste

To make it even easier for you to start implementing today, here’s an example as I sit on the ferry headed to the Sunshine Coast:

5 (see): a piece of driftwood floating by the window, the lush green forest on the coastline, the black pick up truck in front of me, the white paint on the inside of the ferry, and the dog hair all over my car (you get used to it...).

4 (feel): my sandals pressing into my feet, the 40 pound lap dog sitting on me (she’s lucky she’s cute), the wind on my face from the open window, the headrest pressing into the back of my head.

3 (hear): the large fan that we ended up parked beside (lucky us!), the muffled ferry announcement, the sound of my keyboard as I type this out.

2 (smell): car fumes from all the vehicles starting up, dog breath (hey I didn’t say it had to be rainbows and butterflies, as long as you’re present in the moment!).

1 (taste): mint from my gum.

It takes about a minute or less to go through this process. The result? You can re-ground yourself in your present situation, manage intrusive thoughts, and tackle whatever goals you set out to achieve.

My favourite Apps for Mindfulness if you need some guidance/practice:

  1. Mindshift CBT App by Anxiety Canada

  2. Headspace

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