Object Mindfulness for Anxiety & Stress Relief

Check out this quick mental exercise to bring you back into the present moment to reduce stress and anxiety!

Grab a small object that can fit into one or two hands. This should be an object that does not have any emotions attached to it. You are going to keep your full attention mentally and physically onto the object. Try to keep full awareness of this object while also focusing on your breathing. You are now going to experience the object with your senses. Take caution with taste and smell!

Start with sight by looking at all the details of the object. What do you notice about it? What color or colors is it? It is small, medium, or big? Do you notice anything special or unique about the object? Focus on the features of the object.

Feel the object with your hand or hands. What is the texture? Is it smooth, rough, grooved, hot, cold, heavy, light, etc.? Focus on how your hand or hands feel after touching it.

Take time to smell, taste, and listen to the object if possible! Maybe using a candle, candy, or an object that makes music is best for you!

As with other meditations, do not judge the object or your thoughts about the object. This practice is for stress and anxiety relief as you can put your full awareness on an object in the present.

What object did you use for your meditation and how did you find the practice useful for you? Comment below!

Do’s and Don’ts of Getting the Most out of Guided Meditation

I often hear my therapy clients talk about wanting to find more ways to relax, clear intrusive thoughts, and to stay in the present moment. To combat this, I recommend starting with meditation as a great tool for decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, and more. “Guided” meditation is the perfect way for beginners to start meditating with the help of a voice to lead the person through guided imagery. This gives a person the opportunity to focus on the message from the meditation which soothes a wandering mind. Guided meditations can be found on YouTube or various phone apps like Calm.

First, search for the type of meditation and time length that you are interested in. I like to start my therapy clients with a 2 to 5 minute meditation and choosing a category like “stress reduction” that the client can focus on. I like to listen to a 5 minute meditation when I’m feeling overwhelmed during the day and this easily brings me back to the present moment with more focus and vigor for my work. Apps like Fitbit can even track your heartrate during a guided meditation to see how calm and relaxed you are getting! Here are some tips to get you started and to get the most out of guided meditation:

  1. Do choose the right setting: You are going to want a relaxing atmosphere and to either lay down or sit in a comfortable position. Limit distractions and make sure you are in a safe environment (not driving). There are also walking meditations that you can listen to and enjoy nature!
  2. Don’t judge your thoughts: Let your thoughts drift by like leaves on a stream. Just label your thoughts as simply “thoughts”. You can even label them specifically like, “Wow, just another anxious thought is going by!”. Pick imagery that works best for you.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection: Learning how to meditate is a process and takes practice. You are not going to be a “perfect” meditator. Thoughts will creep in and it’s up to you to let them pass by. Make a plan to practice regularly.
  4. Do choose a category that works for you: YouTube for example has thousands of guided meditations with different categories. Examples include: anxiety, stress, positive energy, sleep, deep relaxation, finding peace, overthinking, fear, and panic. Choose depending on the topic that you’d like to pinpoint and give different categories a try!
  5. Do incorporate breathing: Deep belly breathes and consistent breathing is important to combine with guided meditation audio and videos. Practice different techniques such as box breathing to get the most out of your time meditating. Box breathing (instructions below) is the perfect way to start! Check out this link for some breathing exercise ideas: https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise

What are your favorite tips for getting the most out of guided meditations? Comment below!

Stop, Think, & Act Skill for Great Decision Making

Stop Think Act Teaching Resources | Teachers Pay Teachers

Acting impulsively can get the best of us sometimes, especially when we have trouble regulating emotions like anger, disappointment, and frustration. When you’re driving and see a red light, you wouldn’t usually keep going through it. When we see a yellow light, we slow down and act cautiously until green gives us the signal to go. In the same way, the Stop, Think, & Act Skill helps us to reduce impulsive actions by thinking through situations. I’ll break down this simple skill into 3 steps to help you to make better decisions.


-Imagine a stop sign or stop light in your mind.

-Pause and take a deep breath.

-Step away from the situation if needed and take a break.

-Identify how you are feeling

-Calm down your entire body and mind.

-Check out some emotion regulation and de-escalation skills in my earlier blogs to get through this difficult step.


-Identify the problem.

-Think through the different options for facing the problem.

-What is the best resolution?

-What are the consequences to your possible actions?

-Try a pros and cons list.

-Be cautious and take your time.


-Move forward with the best option.

-Go back and revise your action step as needed.

This is a simple tool for learning how to regulate your emotions, think through those hard issues, and act accordingly!

Stop Think Act stock illustration. Illustration of road - 30576619

10 Journaling Tips for Beginners

1,127 Bullet Journal Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Journaling is a great tool for tracking emotions, expressing feelings, and processing events. You may be thinking, how can I get started and stay consistent with this healthy habit? Below are 10 ways for journaling beginners to get started!

1. Start with setting a small goal such as writing in your journal 3 days a week for 10 minutes each time. Work your way up to a bigger goal over time or find the sweet spot that works for you. Even writing one sentence a day is a great place to start!

2. Use guided journal with prompts to help you to organize your thoughts and have topics to focus on if you are struggling with free form writing.

3. Try out a brain dump where you write out every thought you are having at that time.

4. Use your journal for gratitude by writing at least 3 things a day that you are grateful for or happy with in your life.

5. Find out which type of journal works for you. Some options include paper and pen, your computer, or your smart phone to write down your thoughts.

6. Decide if you’d like to keep your diary private or find some ideas that you’d like to share in therapy!

7. Figure out the best time for you to journal. Would it help to journal in the middle of the day if you are feeling stressed and need to let emotions out? Do you like to reflect on your day at night? Would you like to set intentions in the morning?

8. Write out your pros and cons of situations that are troubling you.

9. Write out a letter about a topic or interaction that is bothering you. You can decide what you want to do with the letter afterwards, to send it or share with a trusted person. It just helps to get those ideas on paper and see how you want to proceed with the situation.

10. Use a journal as part of self-discovery and finding solutions to problems. You can use the journal to vent but it is best to circle back and process situations in order to come up with resolutions.

Comment your favorite tips for journaling below! I also recommend the app Daylio to my clients for tracking moods and there is a daily journaling feature!

Daylio | One Mind PsyberGuide

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) for Mental Health Support

WRAP® Wellness Recovery Action Plan at OCP - Our Community Place

It’s time to take control of your mental health by developing a personal action plan!

What is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)?

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a self-management and recovery tool developed in 1997 by a group of people with mental health challenges. This plan can also be used by people struggling with a variety of addictions. It is not a requirement to have a mental health diagnosis to make a WRAP, and it is great for people who are just working on managing stress. WRAP is used to monitor symptoms in order to increase self-efficacy, prepare for challenges, and improve quality of life. Your WRAP is meant to be reviewed daily and shared with your support system.

The key concepts of recovery that are bolstered by WRAP are hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy, and support. These concepts are developed and maintained through following your WRAP. Remember that you are the expert on yourself and using WRAP can help to increase hope and control over your own life. It is important to educate yourself on your own struggles and experiment with different coping skills. WRAP is a combination of self-help and support that lead to better mental health outcomes.

Check out the WRAP website for more information.

**All links will be available by 1/19/22**

The parts of WRAP include:

-Daily Maintenance Plan

-Wellness Toolbox


-Early Warning Signs

-When Things are Breaking Down

Crisis Plan

-Post Crisis Plan

Comment below some ideas for your own WRAP!

Using I-Statements to Express Yourself in Relationships

What is an I-Statement?

I-Statements are a great communication tool for self-expression. They include our feeling in a situation, the reason for this feeling, and our needs from the person we are expressing our feelings to. I-Statements can also be referred to as “I” Messages.

The Power of “I” Statements (Your Magical Mental Health Tool)

Why do we use I-Statements?

-Focus on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker

-Using assertiveness and setting boundaries

-Not blaming the other person and making them want to defend themselves

-Being open and honest while describing the problem

-Taking responsibility for your own feelings and emotions

What is the importance of I-Statements?

Remember that: No one can MAKE you feel a certain way. We have to take responsibility for ourselves because we are the only ones we can control. We cannot control the outcomes of our I-Statements, but we know that we did our best to communicate in a healthy way when we clean our side of the street.

Use this blank cartoon as a way to practice your I-Statements!

Using I-Statements is an important part of the Fair Fighting skill for couples. Try out this skill with your partner, friend, family member, or co-worker and comment below on how this skill worked for you!

Using PLEASE for a Healthy Body & Mind

DBT - Emotion Regulation - PLEASE skill - YouTube

Now that we have Accumulated Positive Emotions, Built Mastery, and Coped Ahead, it is time to put into effect the PLEASE skill! There is no denying that there is a body & mind connection. It’s important to attend to your mental AND physical health to get the best grip on your emotional states. PLEASE breaks down your physical health needs into categories so that you can identify what need improvements, your progress, and what you’re doing great already. Let’s stay in our wise mind today by making healthy choices!

PL – Treat Physical Illness – Make sure you stay on top of any treatments you have for physical issues and take your medications as prescribed. Physical health has a strong tie to mental health and the way that we can handle regulating our emotions.

E – Balance Eating – We all eat some junk food once in a while. It’s not about denying yourself these treats but more about balancing your diet and eating what makes you feel healthy. Check out future posts on mindful eating to learn how to slow yourself down and really enjoy your food. Don’t eat foods that make you feel overly emotional like sugar that could lead to a crash! Really learn how your own body reacts to certain foods. Now I can get a sugar hangover if I have too much soda the night before (welcome to my 30’s!).

A – Avoid Mood-Altering Substances – Avoid drugs and alcohol or use in moderation. Know your limits and how your body reacts to certain substances. Some substances are used for medicinal purposes and it is important to know if they are actually helping or hurting you. This all depends on your own mental and physical chemistry. Some of these medicinal drugs may add to anxiety or depression. It is best to consult a professional and stay in tune with your body and mind.

S – Balance Sleep – Check out my earlier post on sleep hygiene to learn more tips for sleep. Try to get an amount of sleep that is best for you. Keep a consistent sleep and wake cycle everyday. It’s important for our bodies and mind to recharge every night with good quality sleep.

E – Get Exercise – Do a little bit of exercise daily. Take small steps into incorporating exercise into your daily schedule. Try to add more walking into your routine or add in 10 minutes of strength training a day. Hiking and walking outside are definitely two activities I love that provide exercise and an opportunity to enjoy nature.

DBT Emotion Regulation Skills: Emotion Psychoeducation & Mindfulness -  Psychotherapy Academy

Here is a cool way to track your ABC PLEASE skills with a fun bingo board:


Leave a comment below on anything you would like to add to PLEASE that has helped you stay well mentally and physically!

ABC Skill: Cope Ahead of Stressful Situations in 5 Steps

Cope Ahead: The Power of Planning How to Cope in Advance - Bay Area DBT &  Couples Counseling Center

Now that we have completed A: Accumulated Positive Emotions & B: Built Mastery, it’s time to C: Cope Ahead!

Are you anticipating that there could be an issue in the foreseeable future that is causing you anxiety before it has even happened? Do you want to feel more prepared and ready to tackle this challenge?

Learn how to cope ahead of your problems in 5 easy steps!

  1. Describe the situation that may become problematic. What are the facts of the situation? Stay objective in this thinking. What emotions and actions are going to get in the way of using coping skills? Identify those emotions and actions. For example, if you get angry and overwhelmed, you may not be able to use deep breathing techniques.
  2. Decide what coping skills you want to use and the details of these skills. For example, the specific deep breathing technique of “box breathing” will be used for 2 minutes. This is where you can breathe in 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds.
  3. Imagine what the situation will be that you need to cope with. Paint a detailed picture in your mind of what you could be dealing with. Use your 5 senses to imagine what it could be like. Pretend and visualize that you are experiencing this situation in the present moment.
  4. Rehearse how you will use your coping skills in your mind in detail. How will you act, think, and say? What can you do to cope if new problems arise in the situation. What is the worst case scenario and how can you cope with that?
  5. Relax after rehearsing. What do you do for self-care? Check out my self-care post for some ideas. Can you practice mindfulness techniques and distraction from distressing emotions? My previous grounding techniques post offers some suggestions on how to focus on the present moment to bring relaxation.

Now you are ready to face any difficult situation face on. You’ve imagined the worst case scenario and how you would cope with it. Now the foreseeable event doesn’t seem so daunting!

What are some situations that you would like to cope ahead with? Comment below!

ABC Skill: Build Mastery

Build Mastery — Nina Barlevy, Psy.D.

Building Mastery is our “B” in the ABC Skill. This step happens after we have accumulated our positive emotions and before we cope ahead. Once we have worked on some projects and figured out what we like to do, we can start to become more skilled in it to build confidence and increase our self-esteem.

  1. Pick one thing to do everyday that will help you to feel accomplished. This could be cooking one meal, doing a hobby for 30 minutes, cleaning for 10 minutes, walking for 15 minutes, etc. Set a small but achievable goal that you can definitely fit into your schedule.

2. Do not set yourself up for not accomplishing your goal. Do something that is reasonable. You aren’t going to be the master of your hobbies in one day! I love to knit and I know that my projects are never going to come out perfect. I usually drop at least 3 stitches on the way to finishing a scarf but I know that it is made with a lot of love!

3. Starting with an easy task, increase the difficulty slowly until you feel like you are beginning to master the task. Add some challenge to feel that sense of accomplishment.

For more information on how to set small and achievable goals, check out my SMART Goals post!

The Surprise of Building Mastery. And actually recognizing it when it… | by  Ashley L. Peterson | Ascent Publication

ABC Skill: Accumulate Positive Emotions

Positive Emotions Heal!" by Peter Hampton, Ph.D.

In a past post, we learned about the difference between the emotional, rational, and wise minds. The emotional mind can overwhelm our thoughts and decision making. This can make it more difficult to align our actions with our values. Our rational minds can lead us to become more robotic with our thinking and lead to us stuffing down our emotions. To create a wise mind, the intersection between emotions and rationality, we can use the ABC skill! Let’s start with the “A”!

A – Accumulate Positive Emotions

This skill is about engaging in healthy activities that make you feel happy. Personally, I love to knit. The clacking of the needles and repetition of knitting make me feel calm and in the present moment. I try not to focus on the finished product and rather the calming feeling I have while just knitting and relaxing on my couch.

Knitting is therapeutic!

Now, give it a try and give your full attention to these pleasant activities to build positive emotions in the present moment. Do not focus on when the activity could end and if you are doing it perfectly. Create the possibility that positive events will happen in the future. Practice the Opposite to Emotion Action skill to work against what is holding you back like anxious thoughts while you are engaging in these enjoyable activities. For example, you may feel anxious that your project isn’t coming out perfectly so practicing the opposite of anxiety would be to distract yourself from those thoughts by putting your full focus on the project.

Here are some examples of Pleasant Activities to try daily (10 out of 225 examples from the DBT Skills Training book):

  1. Listening to Music
  2. Laughing
  3. Reading magazines
  4. Having a quiet evening
  5. Painting
  6. Practicing religion
  7. Going on a walk
  8. Being spontaneous
  9. Doing a craft
  10. Playing a sport

Now let’s consider the long-term and stop avoiding what we can do to create a fulfilling life. Discover what values are most important to you and find one value that you would like to improve now.

What are some goals that you can set to improve that value and pick one goal to work on?

3 Steps to Finding Your Org's Core Values - The Association

What are some small action steps to use to work towards that goal and pick one to take now?

For more ideas on how to set goals, check out this blog post on SMART goals.