Category Archives: Resources

How to Stay Positive During Times of Crisis

Posted April 9, 2021







What You’ll Learn:

As you read about how to stay positive during times of crisis, you’ll learn:

  • Maintaining positive mental health amid a crisis can be difficult.
  • MHS DBT & Mental Health Services can help you learn skills to make the best of adversity.

Living through a pandemic as we’ve experienced with the coronavirus is something most people never expected to participate in. However, even when the whole world is not in crisis, and there are no masks or social distancing, day-to-day life still has its challenges. Health problems, financial worries, family and relationship trouble all have a way of cropping up. With all the negative emotions buzzing around you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, frightened, and anything but positive. Here are some tips to stay positive in a crisis.

Choose Your Words Carefully

The ways you talk and think about yourself matters when it comes to staying positive. The words you choose to describe your situation and yourself make a difference in your self-image. For example, when facing adversity, rather than asking, “Why did this happen to me?”, think that it happened for you. When you look at difficult times as opportunities to learn, try, or experience something new, it’s easier to put a positive spin on them.

Learn From Adversity

Most of the things that people worry about never happen. However, that doesn’t stop people from feeling overwhelmed and stuck. One tactic for staying positive is to look for a way to let adversity propel you toward something more significant. Look for a way to turn it into an opportunity; sometimes, it will be more challenging than others, but it’s always worth the effort. The best news is that many very successful people believe their most outstanding achievements began when facing their most tremendous adversity.

Take Up Journaling

It may seem cliche, but writing your feelings in a journal can help bring them into greater clarity. When you understand what you’re feeling, it’s easier to maintain a positive attitude about them. Journal entries focused on gratitude are one particularly effective tool for preventing depression. Journaling also gives you something to look back on one day in the future for encouragement and a reminder of how far you’ve come.

Let People Who Love You Lift You Up

While it’s essential to understand who you are as an individual, too much time alone can lead to negative thinking. The community of friends and family who care about you wants you to be mentally healthy and well. Turn off the news, and spend more time with loved ones who bring you joy and make you laugh. Reach out to them when you feel sad or overwhelmed. Hugs can be excellent medicine, and for many people, the human touch is healing.

Know What You Can Control

Rarely is any situation entirely within your control. You can’t force friends and relatives to act the way you want, and you can’t control everything about the environment around you. Sometimes, your attitudes, thoughts, and reactions are the only things you can manage effectively. Focus on the things that you can control. It might even help make a written list of those things so you have something concrete that you can touch as a reminder of where to focus more of your energy.

Give Yourself Grace

Self-care is more than a buzzword. It’s an essential component in maintaining positive mental health when facing difficulties. Self-care comes in many forms and is different for everyone. Some people read a book, take a nap, bake cookies, or work out. Others garden or spend time with their children and grandchildren. The key is finding something that you enjoy that doesn’t cause you stress. Self-care is essential not just for your mental health but for your physical health as well. Many studies have demonstrated that the health of your immune system and how your body copes with illness are directly related to your emotional condition.

Serve Others

When you reach out to help with a project in your community or help someone you encounter through a difficult time, it’s hard to stay focused on yourself. Organizations and people always need help with something, and assisting others helps you as well. Service to each other as humans gives us a sense of purpose and reminds us that every person can do something to make the world a little better.

Understand That Bad Days Will Happen

Remind yourself that, at times, it’s okay to be sad or upset when bad things happen. Those feelings are as normal as happy feelings are, and expressing them is healthy. If crying is cathartic for you, go ahead and cry. Some people go outdoors and shout to the sky. Wearing your favorite articles of clothing is comforting for some. Finding healthy ways to express negative emotions is one of the keys to your well-being.

Unplug Regularly

Cell phones, computers, and other devices help us in many ways, but the constant exposure to the news media and other people’s lives can be overwhelming. Regularly, take a week, a day, or even just a few hours to unplug from all your electronics. Get away from social media; go outside and take a walk. Enjoy the sun and the air and think of all the things for which you are grateful. Spending time away from all the electronic connections can result in an improved mood and better overall mental health.

Practice Gratitude as a Way of Life

Gratitude is the state of being thankful. It has also been defined as a positive emotional response to receiving something from someone else. When you look for all the things you have to be grateful for each day and make an effort to thank those who contribute to those gifts, you not only bless yourself but those around you as well. When your friends, family, coworkers, and others hear that you appreciate them, you are both lifted.

Seek Help When You Need It

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to maintain a positive attitude, we find ourselves facing a depression we can’t shake. When that happens, reach out to the team at MHS DBT & Mental Health Services. We offer evidence-based therapy services for adolescents and adults dealing with a myriad of mental health challenges. Contact us today to schedule your appointment; you and your mental health are worth it!

Featured Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The Triggers of PTSD

Posted April 9, 2021

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that occurs after a dangerous or painful event.
  • Most people who experience a traumatic event don’t develop PTSD, but those who do have significant challenges.
  • MHS DBT & Mental Health Services offers treatment services for those with PTSD triggers and symptoms.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. This mental health disorder occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event or multiple events. PTSD is different from the body’s typical fight or flight response to something frightening or painful, either emotionally or physically. While almost everyone has some reaction to a traumatic event, the reaction is short-lived and goes away with time for most people. People with PTSD have difficulty moving out of that high-stress state, even when they are no longer in danger and the traumatic event is in the past.

Who Is at Risk for PTSD?

Anyone who experiences a traumatic event could develop PTSD symptoms. The condition occurs in adults, teens, and children. Soldiers, survivors of child abuse and domestic violence, and those who live through natural disasters are just a few of the categories of people living with PTSD. The trauma doesn’t even have to happen directly to the diagnosed person. Watching a loved one die or be harmed can lead to PTSD.

Most people who live through life events like these will not develop PTSD. No clear understanding exists of why one person does and another doesn’t experience the disorder. Genetics may play a part, as may neurobiology. However, researchers know that each person has a set of risk and resilience factors that make the individual more or less likely to develop PTSD and are more or less likely to succeed in recovery. Some of the risk factors are:

  • Experiencing multiple traumatic events
  • Being physically injured or watching someone else be hurt or killed
  • Traumatic events that occur in childhood
  • Feelings of terror and helplessness
  • The lack of a social support system after the event
  • A history of mental illness or addiction

Some of the resilience factors that may help protect against PTSD are:

  • A strong support system of friends and family
  • Willingness to attend a support group
  • Confidence in the ability to handle dangerous situations
  • Understanding positive coping strategies
  • The ability to react to fearful situations in a productive way

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of PTSD and a recovery plan require evaluation by a psychiatrist or a psychologist. To meet the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms must:

  • Last for more than one month
  • Be unrelated to any other medical conditions or substance abuse
  • Reach a level of severity that interferes with daily life, work, school, or relationships
  • Include at least one re-experiencing symptom, such as flashbacks and nightmares
  • Include at least one avoidance symptom, such as staying away from specific places, events, or thoughts
  • Include at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as startling easier than usual or feeling constant tension
  • Include at least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as loss of interest in activities or negative feelings about the world

Some people struggle with PTSD triggers and symptoms for months, while others have chronic PTSD that seems never to go away. It’s important to remember that recovery is possible, even for those with severe cases.

What Are Some Symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD can develop after any dangerous or painful event, and the pain can be physical or emotional. The sudden loss of a loved one, for example, can lead to PTSD. Most people who develop symptoms of PTSD do so within three months or so of the event. However, some sufferers may not see signs until years later. PTSD often co-occurs with other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

What Are Some Treatments for PTSD?

People with PTSD triggers may benefit from medication and therapies. Just as the symptoms of the disorder vary by person, so do the effective treatments. Only qualified and experienced mental health professionals should treat PTSD, as it may require attempting various therapies to find a combination that works. Finding the right combination of drugs in the correct dosage may require careful experimentation.

Antidepressants are often used to treat PTSD. They may be effective in warding off the feelings of anger and sadness that often come with PTSD. Antidepressants may be used in conjunction with other medications for other symptoms. For example, sleep medications may help address nightmares and insomnia.

Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained professional to address mental health conditions. Sometimes the sessions are individual, and at other times, a group of people with similar issues may meet together. Therapy sessions as a treatment for PTSD usually last from six to 12 weeks but may take longer. The therapist may see value in bringing family and friends into the sessions.

Psychotherapy sessions come in different varieties. Some focus on the common PTSD triggers and symptoms, while others focus on other factors, such as social or job-related issues. While one patient may see success with a single method, others may need different therapies to see improvement. Effective strategies seek to educate the patient about the condition, teach the patient how to identify what triggers the symptoms, and manage the symptoms.

One of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for PTSD is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has decades of research to support its clinical effectiveness. At MHS DBT & Mental Health Services, our therapists use CBT to help patients examine their thoughts and feelings, their relationships with others, and how they navigate their daily lives. Patients come to understand how their thought patterns contribute to distress and behavior problems. They learn how to change those patterns.

The CBT intensive outpatient program at MHS DBT & Mental Health Services meets twice each week. We work closely with other providers, including other therapists, to meet the patient’s needs. All major insurance carriers cover the program.

Providers need to understand that, in addition to treating PTSD triggers and symptoms, some patients have multiple underlying issues to address as well. For example, domestic violence, drug use, and depression are a few concerns that may underlay the PTSD symptoms.

Where Can I Learn More?

MHS DBT & Mental Health Services offers a full range of mental health services for adults and adolescents suffering from many different mental health concerns. We provide evidence-based services, including cognitive therapy, in a supportive environment for everyone, regardless of culture, race, spirituality, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identification. Contact us today to see how we can help you on the road to recovery.

Featured Image: Pop Tika/Shutterstock

What is GRIT? – “Identification” – “Treatment”

Posted November 11, 2020

In our first article, we spoke about GRIT, which The National Council for Behavioral Health uses to describe the traits necessary to help children and youth with mental health challenges. GRIT stands for guts, resilience, identification, and treatment.

This article will continue by focusing on Identification and Treatment for youth dealing with mental health challenges. Continue reading

What is GRIT? – “Guts” – “Resilience”

Posted November 11, 2020

Adolescence is a time of transition and self-discovery and often fraught with stress and anxiety, even under the best conditions. For teenagers living with mental health challenges, the process of becoming an adult can be even more challenging to navigate. Professionals who work with adolescents living with a mental health diagnosis need a particular set of skills. Continue reading

Mental Health Education

Posted October 13, 2020

While a mental health diagnosis poses some challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue a full life of learning, growing, and trying new things. Education is undoubtedly a part of that development process. Learning new things, especially in the classroom, gives you a chance to learn about new stuff alongside new people and teachers. Continue reading

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective. Continue reading

At what moment does change happen, and how can clients notice it?

Posted April 17, 2017

Check out this Pain-and-Change1.pdf from CBT for Chronic Pain and Psychological Well-Being by MHS owner, Dr. Mark Carlson. Buy it on Amazon today! Many concepts from Dr. Carlson’s manual are used within the Thrive Program for Psychological Well-Being and Chronic Pain at MHS. Schedule an intake appointment for yourself or your client today!

CBT for Chronic Pain and Psychological Well-Being

10 Days to a 10-Minute Meditation Practice

Posted March 23, 2017

Pain 1Developing a Meditation Practice Can Seem Impossible…Until You Discover How Doable It Can Be! Taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, these free handouts explain a step-wise and doable method for bringing a brief meditation practice to your and your clients’ lives. Start today!

Click HERE to view the handouts.

Mindfulness Exercises: 73 Ways to Practice the Technique

Posted March 16, 2017

UPDATED: October 17, 2019

Mindfulness is one of the pillars of DBT and has become increasingly important across contemporary therapies. Yet many therapists are at a loss for examples to suggest and use with their clients. Mindfulness Exercises for DBTTaken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, enjoy this free list and handout you can use with any client looking for mindfulness exercises…and remember, mindfulness is not what you’re doing, but how you are attending to what you’re doing!

Mindfulness Exercises

CORE CONCEPT: Use these exercises to practice your mindfulness skill

These mindfulness exercises will strengthen your ability to practice mindfulness and happen to be quite enjoyable too! With all of the exercises, remember to engage each of your senses and to take your time. The text following each exercise just scratches the surface. Go deeper and make the exercise your own! During your practice, when judgments, other thoughts, or any other distractions occur, do not fuss over them, but gently turn your attention back to the exercise.

  1. Explore a fruit: Use Observe and Describe to explore an orange. What are the visual features, what does it feel like, and what does it smell like? Now, slowly start to peel the orange and continue to tune in to each sense. Notice any emotions, thoughts, or other experiences that you have during this process, but cling to nothing, instead of staying engaged in the activity. Ultimately, you may choose to mindfully eat the orange.
  2. Create with Play-Doh: Study the Play-Doh container, noticing the writing, colors, and design elements. Slowly peel the lid off the container, and notice the smell. What comes up for you? Notice any associated feelings, memories, or other experiences, and then tum your attention back to the Play-Doh. Feel it in your hands and begin to knead and work it. Notice the texture, the temperature, and whether there are changes in its flexibility as you handle it. Experience the Play-Doh without the need to create anything. (Alternatives: Create what you choose with the Play-Doh, be it an animal, a sculpture, or something else. Let go of judgments as to how the creation is shaping up. Or, imagine you are a child experiencing Play-Doh for the first time. Allow yourself to be immersed in this discovery!)
  3. Connect with a sound: Put on music; listen to the sounds of waves, nature, or another soothing sound; or pick up on the naturally occurring sounds around you (the hum of an appliance, the sound of traffic, or the bustle of a workplace). Close your eyes and tune in to your chosen sound. Stay with the sound, returning to it when a distraction happens, and perhaps notice how you breathe along with it
  4. Guided imagery: Use imagery from a CD, from a website, or recorded from your therapist or another person. Visualize that you are in the place that is being described, hearing the sounds, and feeling the other sensations. Lose yourself in this experience, and, when the exercise is over, bring its benefits back to the present moment.
  5. Create a safe place: Similar to guided imagery, create a place that is safe and comfortable. It may be a room, a cabin in the woods, or an imaginary land where you are protected by fire-breathing dragons! Use your senses to fully enter the safe place. Notice how it looks, paying attention to even the smallest details. Notice the sounds or the silence. How does it feel? Stay in this place for a while, and go there whenever you need to soothe and calm yourself.
  6. Sounds of a bell: Strike a bell or chime, or clang mini-cymbals to create a tone. Listen to the sound until it fades into complete silence. Repeat as many times as you wish. This can be done anytime during the day, before meetings, before meals, or at any other time that you want a break or to return to the moment.
  7. Mindful eating: Strive to eat mindfully each time you sit down to eat. Notice your food, seeing the shapes, colors, and textures. Smell the aromas. Take it all in before experiencing your first small bite. Our taste buds register tastes more vividly during the first few bites. Eat these bites slowly, experiencing the tastes, smells, temperature, and textures of each bite. Chew slowly, noticing the release of flavors and the sensations associated with eating. Continue thoughtfully, deliberately, until you notice feeling satisfied, and then stop and reflect. As they say, if you love food, spend some time with it!
  8. Mindfulness of smell: Gather a variety of scented candles or essential oils and spend some time exploring the smell of each one. Notice the differences and any reactions you have to each kind of smell. Alternatively, disguise the labels on your candles or oils and see whether you or others can guess each scent.
  9. Mindful listening: Pick a song, close your eyes, and listen closely to the music. Follow the lyrics, notice the different instruments, or take in the song as a whole experience. If you have heard the song before, did you notice anything new? Alternatively, pick a song that has a repetitive lyric, phrase, or melody line. Count how many times you hear the reoccurring detail.
  10. Mindfulness of touch: Take any object into your hands. Explore the object with your hands and fingers, feeling the shape(s), texture(s), and temperature of the object. This can be done in combination with vision or done with your eyes closed, focusing exclusively on touch. Alternatively, gather various fabrics such as silk, cotton, wool, and velvet and experience the different feels. Of course, this exercise can be done with any collection of objects (e.g., stress ball, worry stone, sandpaper).
  11. Mindfulness of nature/thunderstorms: Put on a nature CD or the sound of a thunderstorm. Listen and notice what emotions, thoughts, and sensations start to come up.
  12. Mindful walking: Take a walk outside or around your room. Pay attention to the sensation of your feet in contact with the ground. Let go of thoughts, emotions, and other distractions and just walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important. Alternatively, play a game and avoid cracks (or step on them) or count steps between fixed objects such as light poles or mailboxes.
  13. Mindful nature walk: Take a walk outside through nature. Notice the sounds and smells. What do you see? Take this time to observe, as if this is the first time you have experienced this scenery and the surrounding elements of nature. When you find yourself getting distracted, come back to the scenery around you.
  14. Objects in a bag: Take a bag and add in various types of objects. Make sure the objects are different in texture and shape. Pass the bag around and take turns using your sense of touch to guess what each object is. Observe and describe the sensations.
  15. Making sounds: Go around the group making funny sounds, one person at a time. Pass the sound from one person to another. Notice and release judgments, staying with the game. Alternatively, break into small groups or dyads and create a mantra (word or phrase to repeat) for relaxation, connection, energy, teamwork, or some other concept. Share your mantras and repeat them as a large group for 1 minute each, noticing the connection between the mantra and the resulting emotions and experience.
  16. Meditate on an object: Find something in the room to focus on and use that object to ground you while you breathe. It could be a painting, a vase, or any ordinary household object. Fix your gaze on your chosen object, staying with it as you breathe. If you get distracted just pull yourself back to the object of focus.
  17. Spaceship: Imagine you have a spaceship that can rocket you to your favorite place, real or imagined. Climb into your ship and count down from 1 0 to 1 and then blast off to your destination. Stay at your destination awhile and practice breathing, and then ride back home via your rocket ship or another means feeling relaxed and refreshed.
  18. Easy and enjoyable sitting meditation: Sit in a comfortable chair, on a park bench, or out on your deck or porch. You are alive! So breathe the air, see your surroundings, listen to the sounds, and feel bodily sensations such as your physical connection to your seat, the air temperature, the breeze, etc. You have no place to be but here. Keep it simple.
  19. Mindfulness apps: Search your smartphone, tablet, or computer for free or inexpensive mindfulness apps. Practice each one you find several times, and share them with your friends and family.
  20. Breathing colors: Choose two different colors, one to breathe in and one to breathe out. Blue works well for the in-breath since it matches the cool feeling of the air coming in. Red works well for the out-breath, as it matches the warm feeling of the air leaving your body. However, choose the colors you want, for the reasons you want. Close your eyes and pair each color with its breath.
  21. Square breathing: Start by breathing in for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds, and . then breathe out for another four seconds. Repeat four times.
  22. Deep breathing: Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. To increase focus and quiet the mind, you can use a mantra such as “in” for when you breathe in and “out” for when you breathe out.
  23. Belly breathing: Lie down on your back on the floor or in bed (preferred), or sit upright in a chair. Place a hand on your belly, and as you breathe in watch how your belly expands. Breathing in this way promotes deep breathing, which helps to get oxygen into your system. More oxygen helps us relax our bodies and think more clearly. Set an alarm and breathe deeply for a minimum of 1 minute.
  24. Progressive muscle relaxation: Use the classic “squeeze and release” relaxation technique, beginning with your toes and working all the way up to your face. Squeeze each part of your body, holding the tension for a couple of seconds, and then release. Notice both the state of tension for each body part as well as the state of release. Although this exercise works best using your whole body, it can also be condensed to use fewer body parts, such as just squeezing and releasing your hands (making fists and then shaking them out), or by just scrunching up your face before relaxing it. For more directions, search for progressive muscle relaxation scripts online or on YouTube.
  25. Body scan: Use Observe and Describe to scan your body from top to bottom, noting areas of tension and discomfort. Gently dismiss judgments that arise, and take a deep breath into each area of the body where this discomfort exists. Do not have an agenda about changing how these areas feel, but do notice differences that happen as you continue to breathe and connect. Also, notice areas of your body that feel relaxed and comfortable. Breathe into these areas too.
  26. Rigid body/relaxed body: Stand and tighten your body, assuming a rigid and stiff stance. Hold that pose for 10 seconds or more. Then, relax your body and assume a loose, flexible, and comfortable stance. Identify the different emotions and sensations that came up with each pose.
  27. Half-smile (or full smile): Sit in a chair and take a couple of deep breaths. As you continue to breathe, slowly start to turn the sides of your lips upward to make a small smile. Relax your face and take on this more serene look. Notice whether your emotions begin to change, as your face communicates acceptance to your brain. Alternatively, look in a mirror, make a peace sign with your first and middle fingers, and use those fingers to push up the sides of your mouth into a goofy smile. This moment need not be so serious, even if your life sometimes ist
  28. Positive memories: Remember a positive event from your life, and use your imagination to transport yourself back to that time and place. Play it in your mind as if it is a movie, and tune in to your senses to fully enter into the memory. Notice what emotions come up as you immerse yourself in the experience. Let this positive memory have an impact on you.
  29. Compassion for others: Think of a person who has offended you or others with his or her behavior. Imagine what factors would lead a person to behave in ways that hurt or put off others. Or imagine that person as a child or a baby with innocence. Send this person compassion from your heart, wishing them well in this world. Does sending compassion feel different from holding on to painful feelings about this person?
  30. Pictures and judgments: Look at photos in a magazine and describe what comes to mind. What judgments do you notice? Now take a second and describe what you see in a matter-of-fact manner, sticking to the facts. Notice the difference in the experience.
  31. Gratitude lists: Make a gratitude list with everything you can think of on it, both big and small. Mediate on the list for several minutes. Note any changes in your emotions. Alternatively, write a thank you letter to someone, being specific about what the person did to receive your gratitude.
  32. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 senses: To increase your awareness and ground yourself in the present moment, list five things you see, four things you hear, three things you feel, two things you smell, and one thing you taste.
  33. Standing like a tree: Stand up and pretend your legs· are the roots of a tree, reaching your arms up to be the branches. Start to sway side to side as if you are blowing in the wind. Notice that your legs don’t move, keeping you grounded. Imagine yourself being a tree when the winds of life whip up. Be flexible yet grounded, like strong tree weathers a storm.
  34. Finding your center: Sit upright in a comfortable position and take several deep breaths. On the next exhale lean as far to the right as you can without falling over. Inhale and return to center. Then exhale and lean far to the left. Inhale to the center. Slowly start to repeat, leaning less and less every time. When you finally reach the middle, your center, take several deep breaths and notice what it feels like to be in balance.
  35. Seeking clarity: Take a jar, fill it with water, and put in fine sand, glitter, or another substance that can be shaken up. Once the lid is tight, shake up the jar. Notice the chaos as the sand or glitter moves about the water, with the water being cloudy or unclear. Then, mindfully watch as everything slowly settles, ultimately bringing clarity to the water. Think about the parallels between Emotion Mind and chaos compared to Wise Mind and clarity.
  36. Yoga: Take 5 minutes and assume simple yoga poses (check out a book or video on yoga). Notice your body and remember to breathe as you hold each pose. Just notice emotions, thoughts, and sensations that arise, clinging to none. With practice, this exercise is grounding and relaxing and promotes regulation of body and mind.
  37. Mandalas and coloring books: Mediate on the process of coloring, losing yourself in the activity.
  38. Simon says: This game is all about focusing and sustaining attention. Remember to let go of judgments and have fun!
  39. Jenga: Focus with one mind as you remove blocks and build the tower higher and higher. Notice your connection to removing and stacking the blocks, immersing yourself in the activity. When the tower tumbles, remember that this is the natural outcome of the game.
  40. Categories: Pick a category such as animals or foods and list as many items from that category as possible. In a group setting, go around the circle with each person repeating the items already listed before adding to the category.
  41. Picnic game: Start with the phrase “I am going on a picnic and I’m bringing . .. ” Go around the circle with each person adding something they are bringing, but only after he or she has said all the items that were mentioned before, in order. For an added challenge, this game can be played listing items from A to Z.
  42. Riddles: Buy a book on riddles or search for them online. Contemplate possible solutions. An example: ” I am an ancient invention that allows people to see through walls. What am I?”
  43. 20 Questions: Play 20 questions with a friend, a child, or your family.
  44. Untie knots: Start with string or a shoelace that has been tangled and knotted up. Start to untangle and untie the knots. What emotions come up. Frustration? Impatience? Breathe and practice acceptance as you mindfully complete this activity.
  45. Blow bubbles: Blow bubbles and watch as they float through the air, eventually popping. Notice sensations, such as your breathing, the air you blow into the bubble, and any emotions that arise from the activity.
  46. Play catch: Play this simple game with the goal of being in the moment.
  47. Play catch with categories: Take one ball to throw around a group of people standing in a circle. Pick a category such as countries, music artists, or movie stars. Every time someone catches the ball, they add to the list. If a person cannot add to the list, he or she can create the next category and continue the game.
  48. Energy ball: Imagine a ball as a source of negative emotional and mental energy. Hold on to the ball in your hand and take some time to process what it is like to hold on to your negative energy. Do you want to continue to hold on to it? Tell yourself that you have the choice to let the ball go and put it down. Alternatively, decide to bounce the ball off the floor or wall, imagining the negative energy leaving the ball with each bounce until the ball becomes neutral again.
  49. I spy memory game: Find a page in a magazine full of various objects and take 1 minute to mindfully look over the page. After the minute is up, close the magazine and write down all of the things that you remember.
  50. Write with your nondominant hand: Create an encouraging or coping statement and write it out 10 times with your non-writing hand. Notice any frustrations or judgments that come up and practice releasing them. Engage in the process, noting the level of focus needed to have the writing be legible . ..
  51. Attention to small moments: Small moments in our lives include those that we do not typically notice and those we take for granted. A small moment may be having a cup of coffee or a cool glass of water, spending a moment with a child or pet, or performing any everyday activity that goes by without our attention. Enjoyment, peace, and serenity in life happen in the small moments. Each hour, orient yourself to the small moments that you might otherwise miss.
  52. Focus on senses: Take time to notice what comes through your five senses: what you see, hear, smell, taste, and/or touch. Your senses are your gateway to the world. (See Self-Soothe in Module 3: Distress Tolerance.)
  53. Breathing: We all breathe, and we can all breathe more effectively. Our breath is our anchor and is an excellent way to center ourselves. Take time to breathe mindfully in and out. Stay focused on the sensation of the air coming into your air passages and lungs, holding it, and then letting it out. Use a mantra, such as ” in” as you breathe in and “out” as you breathe out, or count each breath from l to 10, starting over when you reach 10 or if you lose count.
  54. Breathing life cycle: Another way to breathe mindfully is to notice the beginning, middle, and end of each inhalation and exhalation (like how you can hear the beginning, middle, and end of sound another mindfulness exercise). Concentrate on the life of each breath going in and out.
  55. Quiet/still time: Set time aside each day to be quiet and to experience that quiet. Be One-Mindful with the stillness, finding your center and noticing comfort in the moment.
  56. Your favorite song (or album): Listen to your favorite song or album with your full attention. Listen closely to the lyrics and their meaning. Be mindful of each word and phrase. Listen to the sounds of the different instruments. Pay attention to the guitar, bass, drums, vocals, or any other instrument that is central to the music. Notice the production values: Is the song basic or elaborate? Barebones or highly orchestrated? Be mindful of things you have never noticed in music you have listened to many times.
  57. Your favorite show: Watch your favorite TV show, paying attention to the small details. Notice what the actors are wearing, how the sets are designed and decorated, and other elaborate details that go into your show.
  58. The room you know so well: Observe and Describe details that you never noticed about your bedroom, living room, office, or any other place in which you have spent a significant amount of time.
  59. 10 details: Anyplace, Anywhere, pause and Observe and Describe 10 details you would not have otherwise noticed.
  60. Turn down the noise (or embrace it): Turn off all extra sources of noise in your home. If you are not mindfully listening to the radio or TV, turn it off. Work on being present without the competition for your attention. If you are unable to turn down certain noises, practice being mindfully aware of them, noticing them without judgment.
  61. People (or anything) watching: Be a watcher of people, or of anything that might hold your interest. Remember not to judge what you see, but simply let it into and out of your experience like clouds floating through the sky. –
  62. One chore/one task: Do one chore or one task, such as washing the dishes or folding laundry, with all of your attention and care. Be One-Mindful with the experience without adding or subtracting.
  63. “Holding” a feeling: Hold your present feeling like it is a baby. Calming a distraught baby involves compassion and One-Mindfulness. Babies can tell when we are either frustrated or do not want to be with them in the moment. Our feelings are like babies: They too can tell when we either reject them or are not fully present with them. Holding your feeling and being mindful of it will usually cause it to diminish in intensity. If not, consider distraction skills.
  64. Interconnection: Contemplate how you are connected to all of the items around you, to your surroundings, to all of the people in your life, and/or to the universe in general.
  65. Relative thinking: Contemplate the upsides and downsides of any judgment without sticking to any conclusions. See how “good” and “bad” depend on the circumstances and are not fixed.
  66. 5/60: Plan 5 minutes out of every hour to engage in a mindfulness activity. This may include breathing, doing a scan of your body for tension and then relaxing, or one-mindfully accomplishing any task.
  67. Find your center: Before engaging in thoughts and behavior, spend a moment to breathe and find your center. Know that finding your center helps you to access your Wise Mind. Practice the directives of the mantra: Pause, breath, center . . . enter.
  68. Write and release: Write what you would like to let go of on paper and shred it, burn it, or place the paper underwater and watch the ink wash away and disappear.
  69. Lie in the grass: On a day with nice weather, find a patch of lush, green grass in your yard or a park. Lie down, close your eyes, and turn your attention toward the connection and sensations between your body and the grass, feeling yourself supported by the ground. Breathe in the sensations and stay there awhile. Following the exercise, notice what you are feeling. Alternatively, keep your eyes open and gaze at the sky, watching the clouds float into and out of your field of vision. Contemplate the connection between yourself, the earth, and the sky. Take your time in this place, and breathe.
  70. Practice compassion for yourself and others: Sit or lie down in a comfortable spot, and turn your attention to your breathing. As you breathe say to yourself over and over, “May I experience peace and happiness.” Once you have settled into meditating on this mantra, change the mantra to focus on another person by saying, “May (Person) experience peace and happiness.” Continue to breathe as you meditate on this thought from your heart. Extra credit: Make the person you wish peace and happiness to someone you dislike.
  71. Report on your experience or surroundings: Write or narrate what is happening right now with your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, and/or behavior. In doing so, pretend that you are a reporter giving an objective account to your audience. Notice what it is like to Observe and Describe your experience in this somewhat detached manner.
  72. Explain a task (and then participate in it): Take any daily task or chore, such as making coffee, sweeping a room, or watering plants, and break it down into its component steps. Imagine that you would have to explain how to do this to a child or even an alien, and go into minute detail. Now, actually engage in the task or chore, noticing each step and participating in it mindfully.
  73. Look through a new window: Pick a window in your home, school, or office that you never (or almost never) look through. Sit down and spend 5 or more minutes gazing through the window, observing what is outside. Notice the scenery and whether anything is happening outside the window. Describe the scene and/or action to yourself and connect with it. Extra credit: Contemplate the “windows” in your life you do not or refuse to look through. Wlrnt would you notice if you chose to look through one or more of these windows?