Talking Therapy: A few of my favourite techniques
Breathing: There are many different breathing techniques, they are both easy and effective.
4-7-8 is a proven breathing method based on an ancient yogic technique. It works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxation. In return lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety/depression, and helps reduce pain, while improving sleep and concentration.
- Sit in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed and your tongue against the back of your top teeth
- Exhale completely though your mouth
- Inhale a count of 4 in through your nose
- Count to 7 as you hold your breath
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 making a “whoosh” sound
- Repeat 4 times.
4-4-4 or box breathing, isn’t vastly studied, but is known for its benefits including reducing the flight or right response, lowers stress, and reduces heart rate. Focusing on your breath deters the bad thoughts and emotions.
- Inhale through nose for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Breath out through your mouth for 4 seconds
- Repeat until you feel ease
Anchor Drop: Is a technique by Russ Harris’s Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) where the idea is to steady yourself like a boat being steadied in a storm. The storm is the difficult thoughts, behaviours, and emotions, and the anchor is the awareness that is created with being present in the moment through control of breath and movement.
The steps are ACE
- Acknowledge what your thoughts and feelings are
- Come back to your body, feel your feet, your breath
- Engage in what you are doing or where you are.
- Start off with 30 seconds but over time and practice you will be able to do this for as long as 10 minutes.
Leaves on a stream is another mindful meditation exercise by ACT, that helps calm your mind when full of overwhelming emotions and thoughts. The technique is called cognitive diffusion where you create distance from your thoughts and feelings by taking a step back and observing them.
- Start the technique by getting comfortable, closing your eyes, and taking some deep breaths.
- Next you image a stream with water flowing by.
- When a thought pops into your mind, see it, acknowledge it, and see it flowing down the stream on a leaf and out of your mind.
It can be hard to do at first if you have many thoughts going through your mind. Sometimes you may need to take a few breaths and try again. Over time you will get better at it just takes practice.
If you like to be talked through there are different audios online.
Body scan is a meditation that enables you to slow down, be present and gain body awareness. The benefits are reducing tension, anxiety, reduce pain and improve sleep. It a simple technique that can be done sitting anywhere or even lying down before trying to go to sleep.
- Become comfortable in a seated position with a light gaze, not focused on anything just relaxed gaze
- Take a deep breath, notice the room around you and then come into your body
- Continuing the deep breathing, start from your face notice what it feels like, what you can feel against them, any heat or cold, pressure, etc. slowly working your way down your body, shoulder, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, feet, noticing each part as you go.
- Another thing is a tension and relaxation can be added to each part as you go
- Once the whole body has been completed, take a deep breath, notice your whole body, then slowly come back to the room eventually opening your eyes.
Notice 5 things senses is a simple exercise where you slow down, calm your breathing and be present in the moment. This can be used to reduce stress, slow thoughts, and become reconnected and focused.
- Get seated somewhere comfortable, be present where you are and take some big deep breaths
- Notice 5 things around you are, maybe things you don’t normally notice
- Pause in between each part to take them in
- Notice 5 things you can hear
- Notice 5 things you can feel
- You can stop here or continue to notice what you can smell and taste (often only 1 or 2 things)
There is also a wide variety of other techniques that can help calm the mind. Trying different techniques can help you find what helps your mental health best. Everyone and their mental health needs are different. What are some techniques you use?
Along with YouTube, Spotify, and the many self help apps there are many websites with free audios of techniques to walk you through the processes. Some of these are: