From COPE Clinical Director Amy Olshever, PhD, LCSW
Now that you have managed to make it through the rigors of the holiday season, the new year is a perfect time to try out new ways of doing things. As you continue on your grief journey you can try out new perspectives for understanding your experiences, new ways to support yourself and those around you and test out different ways of simply being. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on this moment. We humans, spend a great deal of time focused on the past or worrying about the future. But the only time we actually have any control over is now, this moment. And in this moment we can choose how we will be, just for now, just for this breath. Take a purposeful pause and count a few breaths, just noticing what happens when you stop and breathe, and you will shift the mood.
Here are some mindfulness-based strategies from this month’s Book Corner Book, “Wise Mind, Open Mind,” that may be helpful along your healing journey.
Six Mindful Strategies to Recover from Trauma, Loss & Change
Reach out for Support: Don’t try to bear your trauma alone. Ask for assistance from your friends, spiritual leaders, support groups and professionals.
Sit Quietly and Reflect: No matter the severity of your trauma, sit quietly and ask yourself, “Historically have I experienced other challenges in my life and how did I navigate through them?” Now use these past experiences to tap into your internal courage and strength and explore if you can implement the same strategies again.
Trust Your Inner Resources: Once you realize that you survived other traumas before now trust in yourself to know that you have the ability to get through your present challenge.
Learn to Keep Yourself Centered through the Unbearable Feelings of Grief: When the waves of sadness and helplessness wash over you initially feel the emotion and it’s depth but then start to breathe through the grief with slow deep breaths. This will help you stay grounded and bring you back to the present.
Start Imagining a New Life: Even though you are experiencing immense grief start to imagine and invent in your mind’s eye a new future for yourself.
Practice Mindfulness: While doing grounding practices such as meditation, yoga, or even walks in nature remember that your loss is cyclical like the seasons. Even when we are in the depths of winter we know that eventually it will become more manageable with advent of summer. Learn to tolerate and pace yourself through the most severe times.
You have the ability to tap into your inner courage, move forward with your life and even reinvent yourself.