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EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE
Think - Feel - Do!

Mind Tools

Tips and Tools for taking charge of your mind

There are so many ways you can take charge of your mind to get the most out of life, we can only give you the very tip of the tip of the iceberg here...If you'd like the whole berg, right to the ocean floor, check out our book!

We'll add more tools here from time to time, and remember to check out the lighter side with The EHP Blog as well.

Index (click headings to jump to tips)

Anxiety Busters

Blues Busters

Memory Strategies

Mindfulness The EHP Way - Being Now

Moods are like Measles

Resilience

Sensory Awareness

Stress Busters


Memory Strategies

Oscar Wilde said "Memory is the diary we all carry about with us" . Like any diary, for our memory to work we have to put information in, and be able to get it out again. Here are some hints for making - and retrieving - entries in the diary of your mind.

Remember those shopping bags!

Now that we need to take our own, the trick is to remember to have them with us. If this is a challenge for you, try one of these tips. (Of course, these principles can be used to remember just about anything.)

  1. Make a mind movie – visualise yourself gathering the bags, putting them in the car, and taking them with you when you get there. Whenever you think of going to the supermarket or you’re writing your shopping list, run through the movie a couple of times, and do it again as you’re getting ready to leave. Taking your bags will soon become automatic; until then, speed up the process by putting a note on the steering wheel, on your key ring or even on your hand.
  2. Talk to yourself in terms of what you want. Instead of saying to yourself (or out loud) ‘don’t forget the bags’, say ‘remember the bags’. Why? Because we’re wired to ignore instructions like ‘don’t and mustn’t’, and all we unconsciously notice is the words that follow. (Try it now – don’t think of a pink elephant…) You might even add the ‘remember’ instruction as a soundtrack to your mind movie.
  3. Tell your family, friends, cat and dog that you are in the process of remembering to take your shopping bags. Looking and sounding confident that you’ll soon have it sussed helps to establish and reinforce the new habit.

Where did you park?

So you've remembered your shopping bags, you've got the groceries...now, where did you park? Use the same mind-movie technique; as you walk away from the car, look back at the surroundings and create a short movie of what you'll see as you are coming back. When you return, run the movie so your brain will know what to look for.

What was it again?

When trying to recall the name of someone or something, or what it was we wanted to say, we typically start scrunching up our eyes, tightening up the muscles in our face. When this happens, do the opposite. Take a couple of deep breaths and relax the muscles in your face. If you don’t immediately remember, let it go, get on with the day and expect the memory to surface.

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Sensory Awareness

What do you notice first when you meet someone? Is it the way they look? The sound of their voice and the words they say? Or the energy they give off, how they smell or how comfortable you feel around them?

If someone gives you flowers, what’s more important to you? The arrangement and colours? The perfume? The words on the accompanying card, or maybe how you feel about the person who gave them to you? Do you touch the flowers, the ribbon, the wrapping?

We all tend to have one or two senses we use more, or are more aware of at any given time. By developing our awareness of all our senses, we can get even more pleasure and joy out of Being Now. Amp up your awareness with these quick tips:

Visual

Take a few minutes throughout the day to look about you, as though you are seeing for the first time. Look at cloud formations - nature’s art in action; take in tiny details such as folds in drapes, how many greens you can see right now in nature, the grain in timber furniture or how shadows on the walls alter the paint colour. Train your eye to see more, to awaken from slumber.

Auditory

Spend a few minutes here (hear) and there throughout the day turning on your ears. Tune in to the sounds which usually escape your attention. Can you hear yourself breathe? Are there bird sounds outside? What sounds do your fingers make on the keyboard? If it makes it easier, start with the thought ‘I’m listening…’ and wait, listen and notice.

Kinaesthetic

Note: Kinaesthetic includes touch and every other sensation we feel with and in our bodies, as well as smell and taste.

Stop several times in your day for a few minutes and notice what you feel outside your skin. Feel the air temperature, air movement, the clothes on your skin, the shoes on your feet, any jewellery against your skin and even the hair on your head. Then take your attention to inside your skin, becoming aware of any tightness or tingling, or the feeling of your heart beating, or the pressure of where you meet the furniture supporting you. Notice the sensations of swallowing and breathing. Sit with this for as long as you like; enjoy the now. What can you smell that maybe you're so used to you've stopped being aware? Notice, really notice, the tastes, textures (and even temperatures) of the different foods you eat.

Download the full chapter on Sensing (pdf)

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Mindfulness - The EHP Way

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word right now, a sort of 'self-help de jour' as it were. Like most things in life, some people swear by it, while others say it's no use at all. So why might this be? What is mindfulness, and how is The EHP Way different?

Mindfulness is simply being mindful of our experience in the now, the present, temporarily putting aside thoughts of the past and future. Mindfulness practices commonly include being aware of emotions and body sensations, including unhelpful feelings - and simply accepting them.

Here at EHP, while we agree that sometimes acknowledging how we're feeling is all we need to do, when an emotion is being experienced longer or stronger than is helpful, it can be the very thing that prevents us from embracing the joy of mindfulness - of being now. If you relate to this, there are many ways of quickly, easily and comfortably clearing unhelpful feelings in our book - or make an appointment with Evelyn or Sylvia, and increase your enjoyment of life.

The EHP Way - Being now

Having cleared away any pesky feelings, Mindfulness the EHP Way is all about using our senses to experience the external world as well as our body sensations. By focusing on sensory experience - what we see, hear, feel, taste, smell and touch right now, we enrich our day, nourish our spirit and heighten our awareness of just how much we have to feel grateful for.

One way of Being Now

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Tense your whole body, then let go and relax - let your body pretend it’s asleep.
  3. Take a deep belly breath in and slowly let it go, focusing on how it feels. (Make this a belly breath rather than a chest breath - so your shoulders barely move.)
  4. Look around you, taking in s-l-o-w-l-y, the colours, shapes, textures, light and shadows.
  5. Listen to what sounds there are, now, including your own breathing.
  6. Notice what you feel - your breathing, your heartbeat, your feet on the floor, where your hands are resting - and linger on each sensation…pause and really notice…if you notice a spot of tension in your body…tell it to let go, to relax…keep breathing slowly and deeply.

Spend as long as you like with your feeling sensations...add in any smells or tastes...if you only have five minutes, take five minutes. If you have ten, lavish ten minutes on yourself. If your mind wanders, call it back to noticing your breathing again.

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Resilience

Resilience is all about bouncing back better when life tosses us those inevitable curve balls, and having something in reserve to act as resistance to stress. The basis of resilience is emotional and psychological wellbeing, made up of:

Every mind tool offered on this page contributes to one or the other of those elements (and sometimes all). There is one thing that sometimes challenges all three, and that is - how to let good enough be...well, good enough:

Giving up on perfectionism

We know you’re out there - people who find it hard to settle for less than perfect, who strive above and beyond and then some. It comes as a challenge, doesn’t it, to let it go, to walk away, to see someone else do something which falls short - in your estimation! Does this add stress to one’s life? If taken to extremes, yes it does.

If this is you, you might like to try an exercise in flexibility. Leave something imperfectly done. Walk away and find a distraction. Go into observer mode and notice how interesting it can be. Smile to yourself at the diversity of human beings, along with all our similarities, our individual ways of doing things.

Try on, just for fun, a ‘that’ll do’ attitude with something that really doesn’t matter. Let it go. Look at the clouds or wonder how the newly emerged butterfly knows to fly directly to her source of food. A relaxed attitude is an element of being resilient.

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Stress Busters

Stress...we've all heard of it, most of us have felt it - and we can all minimise it. Stress is not a viral infection or a germ waiting around to pounce on us. For the most part, it's an un-resourceful response to threats or challenges - our individual, internal response to certain stimuli. Stress and overwhelm go hand in hand, coming from:

We offer you some simple ways to take charge now...

See your way out of stress

When we're stressing, we tend to be in tunnel (foveal) vision, effectively shutting down the thinking part of our brain as we go into flight or flight mode. Simply moving into peripheral vision can be a quick fix when we're on-the-go.

  1. Focus your eyes on a point slightly above and directly in front of you
  2. Begin to notice everything you can see in your peripheral (side) vision
  3. As you breathe out, relax all of the muscles around your eyes
  4. Allow yourself to be surprised that the rest of your muscles follow suit as your breathing slows.

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Get comfortable with saying 'No'

When our obligations are many and we've well and truly stacked our camel with straw, there comes a time when we need to reassess.

In his illuminating book The Gift of Fear (Bloomsbury, 1997), Gavin de Becker says "I encourage people to remember that 'no' is a complete sentence." Depending on the person and the circumstances, sometimes we might want to soften that a bit, but the essence is that what you do is your choice - you are the boss of you. It can be useful to check out the following criteria:

  1. Does it need to be done?
  2. Are you capable of doing it?
  3. Are you the best or only person to do it?
  4. What would happen if you did - or didn't?

And remember - the person to whom you need to say 'no' might just be yourself!

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Become a superhero

Never underestimate the power of posture!

Stand in the Superhero pose, with feet apart, body erect, hands on hips with shoulders and elbows back, chin up and looking up - above eye level. You might imagine your cape flowing out behind you! Take four rounds of breathing in fast – to the count of two, then very slowly out for a count of ten (or as close to ten as you can get). Feel yourself being the Superhero who is in control and who can manage the situation you have in mind.

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Blues Busters

Is your spark at risk of fizzling out? Like anxiety, depression comes in many shapes and sizes - from feeling a bit 'down' through having a case of the 'why me?', to enough is enough with a system shut-down. We offer you some tips for boosting both your morale and your resilience.

Jump-start your system

When we’re feeling depressed, the autonomic nervous system is out of balance. The parasympathetic branch of the system is over-active, dulling down our responses and prompting us to withdraw from stimuli. Our whole system slows down and it’s no wonder we can’t get motivated.

We can get ourselves moving by giving our system the breathing equivalent of a jump-start. It takes just a couple of minutes.

  1. Breathe in through your nose, a long, slow breath, as long as you can, up to a count of ten. (If you’re not used to regulating your breathing, start gently, doing what you comfortably can – with practice you’ll be able to increase the length of the in-breath.)
  2. Straight away, puff your breath out through your mouth, hard and fast – to no more than a count of two.
  3. Repeat steps 1. And 2. three more times.

Use this jump-start even before you get out of bed…and any time you feel the need for more energy and focus.

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Change your time focus

Wouldn't you know it, just like anxiety is time-based, so is depression - but while anxiety is all about the future, depression is all about a negative focus on the past. Give one (or both) of these a go:

  1. Find something to be grateful for right now. Yes, we know sounds a bit hokey, but it works! Bring yourself into the now, and notice 3 things, however small, for which you feel grateful. It might be as simple as a roof over your head, a daisy growing in the lawn or that you are able to read this website...Practice this skill daily (yes, it is a skill) and notice the difference in how you feel as it becomes your new habit.
  2. Shift your focus to the future and find something - again, however small - to look forward to. If you can't see anything on the horizon right now, start to wonder to yourself what you can make happen - something in your power and control - and set it in motion. A movie to go to? A friend to see? A 'moment' with a cuddly critter?

More...

Check out the Fast Mood Change below

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Moods Are Like Measles

Never underestimate how much we affect, and are affected by, other people. We can all too easily ‘catch’ states of mind from – or spread them to - others around us. We have mirror neurons designed to put us in step with each other, however, we don’t want to mirror or project anxiety, fear, anger or even the old game of ‘ain’t it awful?’, do we?

Maintaining your own state of mind

You may have heard the old joke ‘If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs, you don’t understand the situation!’ We beg to differ… that’s just when you do understand the situation - the situation of being in charge of your own state.

So how do you keep your head when people around you are losing theirs? As soon as you recognise there are emotions in others you want to stay out of:

  1. In your mind’s eye, step out of the situation, become the observer, looking back at yourself and the other or others.
  2. Take on an ‘isn’t this interesting?’ perspective – be like the scientist studying the situation.
  3. Decide the thoughts and feeling you choose to experience.
  4. Think, Feel, Do what's right for you.

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Projecting a positive state

You probably don’t want to be one who sets up a state which may influence others to feel less than wonderful. If we’re not mindful of how we are thinking and feeling, it’s easy to go around spreading vibes for others to pick up and feel, well, not so great. It’s a bit like having measles and walking around spreading it to whoever gets close enough.

  1. Imagine you see and hear yourself from other peoples’ perspectives.
  2. If you’re happy with what you see and hear, and imagine you’d like being around that person, go for it!
  3. If you’re less than happy with what you see and hear, make some adjustments to your thinking and posture.
  4. Change your thoughts to gratitude, eager anticipation, curiosity or simply being in the now.
  5. Notice how you feel now and if necessary, keep adjusting your thinking until you feel good.
  6. Now – spread that around!

Parents are in a strong position to influence how children feel and act – if parents are tense, anxious, angry, it will affect children in the home. Even our pets are influenced by our habitual emotions – for richer or poorer.

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Fast mood change

You've probably noticed that when someone is feeling down, their face and body often match the feeling - their posture may be slumped and heavy looking, and they look down a lot.

“Feeling down” is very real. And “things are looking up” is also very real. One of the fastest ways to change how you’re feeling is to change what you’re doing.

Try this:

  1. Change your posture
  2. Look up
  3. Imagine you can see your phone number on a sign up there in front of you
  4. Read the number backwards to yourself
  5. Notice you feel different
  6. Get on with enjoying your life

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Anxiety Busters

Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes; from butterflies in the tummy through the pounding heart and sweaty palms of facing something we'd rather not, to full-blown panic and phobias. We offer you some tips for relieving anxiety quickly and easily. The more you use them, the more effective and easier they'll become.

Be in the now

Anxiety is future-based; even if it relates to something that happened in the past, anxious feelings are produced by imagining something happening in the future, so our hot tip is: If you’re feeling anxious, you must be okay right now.

Yes, that's right - if your focus is on the future, then you must be okay right now – or all your attention would be on sorting out what’s happening in real time.

  1. Notice you are okay right now
  2. Pay attention to two things you can see in your surroundings – their colours, shapes, size etc
  3. Notice two things you can hear – volume, tone, location
  4. Find three things to touch and notice how they each feel
  5. What can you smell? Can you taste anything?
  6. Notice how slow and easy your breathing has become

The secret is...not so secret any more! Because anxiety is future-based, when you bring your attention to your sensory experience in the here and now - what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell - you can't continue to scare yourself.

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Breathe yourself calm

When we experience anxiety our nervous system goes out of balance, preparing us to flee, fight or freeze, restricting our ability to use our brainpower for anything other than our immediate survival. If there is no real threat to our wellbeing - meaning we're not being chased by hungry lions or such - we need to rebalance our system to feel calm again and regain our ability to think clearly.

Specific breathing patterns work effectively to bring our systems into balance; as well as bringing your attention into the present moment, take some time out - preferably sitting - and follow this pattern:

1. Take a few clearing breaths - long, slow belly breaths.

2. Take four breaths in quickly, to the count of two, then breathing out slowly, to the count of ten.

3. Then take six deep belly breaths, in to the count of six, out to the count of six, without pausing between the in and out breath.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 three or four times, until you feel calm, then breathe normally.

Not so keen on sorting your anxiety issues on your own? Contact Evelyn or Sylvia for one-to-one sessions in person or via Skype.

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