- Monika La Nuez, LCSW
Creative Ways to be Mindful
Mindfulness is a fundamental part of DBT and is one of the four modules in which skills are offered, along with distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. By being mindful of the present moment, we can disconnect from the “thinking mind” and find some peace, respite, and emotional freedom. That said, developing a mindfulness practice can often feel intimidating and difficult for many people. Often, people imagine that they must develop a mindfulness practice rooted in breathing, sitting, and stillness. While this kind of practice is invaluable to honing your mindfulness skills, I’d like to offer other unique and creative ways in which to develop mindfulness of the present moment, as a means to disconnect from worries, reduce anxiety, and create moments of calm, peace and joy within your lives.
Drawing and painting: Drawing and painting are incredibly effective ways to get caught up in the present moment. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, I invite you to pick up a pen and paper and allow yourself to freely create. The act of focusing on drawing and painting can fully immerse you in the lines, shapes, colors, and forms you create in the moment and distract from everything else that may be producing worry in your life.
Writing: Sitting down and writing can prove to be a mindful and enlightening experience. You may challenge yourself to think of a specific prompt that can reveal deeper insight and awareness of yourself or you can simply allow yourself to freely write in a stream-of-conscious way.
Sewing, knitting, crocheting: Many people I know these days are sewing, knitting, and crocheting as ways to spend their time during the pandemic. People often share that these activities help them shift away from their worries and concerns, allow them to feel creative and productive, and help them feel pride towards the items they create.
Building/refurbishing something: Building something from scratch or refurbishing something, such as a piece of furniture, can hone in your concentration and focus, making it so all outside concerns get crowded out in the moment. The finished product can also create a sense of accomplishment and mastery that can build confidence and belief in one’s abilities.
Walking, running, dancing, exercise, and movement: Physical movement can be one of the most powerful and effective ways to practice mindfulness. It is difficult to focus on anything else other than what you are doing when you are engaging in intense physical activity. Your body will also be flooded with “feel-good” chemicals that can instantly improve your mood and regulate emotions.
Cooking and baking: The act of preparing, cutting, and measuring ingredients can be truly therapeutic. Additionally, cooking and baking engage all of the senses as you put together colorful, flavorful, and aromatic dishes.
These are just a few of the ways in which you can practice mindfulness in unique and creative ways, while also feeling a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and mastery while engaging in self-care. I hope these suggestions offer some helpful ways to not only entertain yourself, but also allow your mind to escape to a place that feels free, unconcerned, creative, focused, and peaceful.