It’s easy to get excited about learning new things about your mental health. But then you get caught up in your week and it’s hard to remember the stuff you learned in the moment when you need it. Here are some of my core resources that I share with clients to help them take control of their moments.
My go-to app to for deep breathing is called Breathe2Relax. Breathe2Relax is a free stress-management tool developed for combat veterans. The app offers a tutorial to get you started with the technique of breathing from your diaphragm. Then it takes you through a cycle of breathing that guides you through the inhale and exhale. I’ve used this app in my car, in a bathroom stall, in my bed, at my desk and one time in a McDonald’s drive-through. There are no breaths to count or memorize. Just focus on filling your belly with air and let the app do the counting for you. Some days it’s the only thing that keeps me balanced.
—-> Breathe2Relax (iOS) | Breathe2Relax (Android)
Build your emotional vocabulary
One of the most challenging parts of working through difficult emotions is understanding what they are in the first place. Just like learning any new language, establishing a good emotional vocabulary helps you understand what you’re feeling so you have some idea of what to do with it.
Here’s a list to get you started. As you go through your day, try to identify any ones that stand out.
In order to change your negative or unhealthy thoughts, you have to know what they are and how they’re affecting you. This means capturing those thoughts when you’re feeling sad, angry, down, or any of the emotions you identified in your list of emotions above.
Use this form to record your thoughts. You can bring them to session with you to help you walk through the process of challenging and reframing those thoughts. Keep it with you throughout the day, or spend a few minutes each night and reflect on your day. What really affected you today?
Writing things down helps you remember the things that really caused you problems. There’s a lot going on in your week and you have a lot going through your head when we’re sitting across from each other. Use this form to help you!
How to let it go: Leaves on a stream exercise
This is a great way to learn how to pull away from your distressing thoughts and start to become more of an observer of your difficult emotions. Try this on a day when your head is swimming a bit. It will help you refocus and at least remember that you are not your unhealthy thoughts.