Humans are natural-born time travelers. If you’ve ever driven somewhere and ended up at your destination without remembering how you reached it, you’ve experienced this phenomenon firsthand. In fact, this ability to mentally leap into the future or fall back into the past is a unique part of the human condition. Unfortunately, many of our past and future thought patterns look something like this:
“What if I don’t get home on time? I have so much to do. What if I can’t finish everything?”
“Is Susan mad at me? She hasn’t been returning my calls. I wonder if I did something? I wonder if she’ll call tonight?”
“That meeting went well… right?”
Research shows that 47% of the time, we’re actually thinking about something other than what we’re doing. Don’t get me wrong, daydreaming can be a powerful way to unleash the creative mind, but ruminating on the past and wondering about an uncertain future can also provoke anxiety. In fact, this “What If” type thinking is a hallmark of the anxious mind. This begs the question: with all the chaos in our minds, how can we remember to slow down and stay grounded in the present moment?
We change our thinking from “What If” to “What Is”.
And that’s exactly what we’ll do for Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #3: Mindfulness
- Grab a paper napkin, and draw a grid with 6 squares. For ease, you can just draw three vertical lines and three horizontal lines… voila… done. 🙂
- In each square at the top draw (yes, draw!) an image of one of your senses. Leave the last square blank.
- Today, any time your mind goes into a What Iffing frenzy bring yourself back into the moment by going through all 5 of your senses and writing a short note related to that sense in the corresponding box.
- Use the last empty square as a feelings tracker!
Don’t forget, after you try this exercise, teach it to someone else!
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