As we have mentioned in previous modules, mindfulness is an important skill for you to take from the SHADE program and practice in your everyday life.
Mindfulness helps you step out of automatic pilot, which can often keep you in your negative cycle of depression.
Your take-home activity for the past week was to practice mindful walking for 10 minutes each day and record this on your Activity Log.
You were also going to choose another routine activity from all the things you do in each day (such as showering, brushing your teeth, eating etc.) and practice mindfulness for about 10 minutes on this extra activity.
Hopefully you have managed to at least try this out over the past week.
Mindfulness is a new exercise that takes some practice to get used to.
Other people who have been trained to use mindfulness have been distracted by thoughts such as: “I don’t think that I’m doing this right”, or “I couldn’t find the time, and I don’t see how this helps anyway”. You may have even experienced some of these thoughts yourself in relation to the SHADE project. You may have found that your mind wouldn’t stay still or that you became too upset to continue with the exercise for the full 10 minutes.
Each of these reactions is OK, and perfectly normal. It is important to be aware of these types of reactions, because they can attack your motivation levels and make it difficult to continue with practice tasks from SHADE therapy. They also might prevent you from stepping out of your negative cycle, or automatic pilot.
Please remember that mindfulness is more about just being focussed on the moment, allowing things to happen, rather than paying attention to thoughts about doing it properly, or worrying that it is not doing anything useful. The key to mindful walking is being able to step out of your automatic pilot, to focus on what is happening in the moment, and resisting your tendencies to judge what you are doing or focus on your worries.
The best way to deal with these types of reactions or the thoughts that you mind wanders off to during this activity is simply to be aware that this has happened. Even if you feel upset and emotional or your mind wanders off many times, the key is to recognise this has happened. Say to yourself “it’s OK” and then bring your focus and attention back to your walking activity.
You may have to do this many times in the one 10-minute practice session. This is also OK. Each time you re-focus your attention on walking mindfully, you are re-training your brain to focus on what you want, rather than allowing your automatic pilot to take over and keep you in your negative cycle of depression.
Practice is the easiest way to get used to mindful walking and mindfulness in other routine activities, so please keep doing this once every day over the next week for about 10 minutes.
Be sure to write in your practice sessions on your activity log for next week.