Practical Mindfulness Tips To Shift Your Mood

By Dr. Laura Markham

So you can’t stop your mind from being negative sometimes. But you can commit to a better way of handling low-level fear when it arises, before it spirals out of control. When you notice that creeping negativity, use these practical mindfulness tips to shift your mood.

1. Use your Pause Button

Train yourself to Stop, Drop (your current agenda, just for now), and Breathe, the minute you notice that something is stressing you. Three deep conscious breaths will pause your stress response, and give you the power to choose how to react to whatever’s in front of you, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions.

2. Observe what’s happening in your body

Ruminating about whatever is upsetting you will just get you stuck in the story line. Instead, notice the sensations in your body. Tight shoulders? Dread in the pit of your stomach?

Be willing to feel that. The secret is that as you welcome those sensations, and breathe into them, the feelings begin to shift, change, and eventually evaporate.

Still feel upset? You’re probably bumping up against a powerful belief system, which you’ve reinforced with your thoughts many times. It’s worn a groove in your psyche, and triggers some big feelings.

But don’t worry, you’re already excavating it. Every time you notice those automatic negative thoughts and feel the sensations that go with them, but — and this is crucial — you RESIST TAKING ACTION (which is a distraction from the feelings), you break that neural chain. Eventually, you won’t even get triggered by those thoughts, and that belief system will no longer feel true.

3. Make Your Conscious Attention Bigger Than Your Fear

At this moment, while you’re upset, here’s a power tool to move this process along faster. Be more present. That means you shift your attention from your mind back into your body. Breathe deeply. Notice everything your senses are telling you.

Notice that as you observe, the part of you that’s observing gets bigger than those uncomfortable sensations. Your conscious attention is like a light that melts away tension and fear.

4. Open some space to shift out of feeling victimised

Fear makes us feel powerless and victimised. But what IS Fear, really? It’s just the worry that we won’t be able to handle something that might happen.

So one antidote to fear is to claim your power. Once you’ve spent some time in your body dissolving those stuck patterns, shift the energy.

  • Tap the karate chop point on the side of your hand as you say: “Even though I’m feeling stressed about that right now, I know that whatever happens, I can handle it!”.
  • Shake the tension out of your hands or run them under water, imagining that you’re off-loading fear.
  • Put on some music and dance it out, claiming your power. (This is terrific to do with children).
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