In the midst of a crisis, we’re driven to seek refuge—places of safety, peace and calm. But, for many of us, because of responsibilities in our daily lives, it’s not possible to escape the stressful situation we find ourselves in.
The good news is that by practicing mindfulness you can create a refuge that’s always available to you and does not require going anywhere. Most often, there is nothing catastrophic actually happening in the present moment. So, anchoring in it will decrease your distress.
Bring your undivided and nonjudgmental awareness to where you are now and what’s happening. Throw yourself fully into what you’re doing, e.g., lifting weights, running, cooking, walking the dog. If the focus of your awareness drifts to worry thoughts about the crisis situation, bring it back to the activity you’re engaged in. Take time to bring the focus of your awareness to present sensory input— what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Focusing on the feel of water in the shower, the sound of traffic outside your window, notice the colors of the office buildings and taxis on your walk to work. When you drink your morning coffee, focus exclusively on the experience of the coffee rather than draining the cup—savor it.
Incorporating a couple of these brief practices throughout the day can decrease stress and enhance your ability to handle the crisis.
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.