My clients often get nervous when I bring up mindfulness, and I can understand why.
It feels like mindfulness comes easily to everyone but them. They also find lots of conflicting information about what to do. They know mindfulness can help their mental health, but they struggle to engage.
This post will identify how mindfulness can be a healthy form of self-care. I will also include a simple and practical way to start mindfulness today.
How does mindfulness relate to self-care?
Most of my clients struggle to take care of themselves. They are high-achievers who are prone to stress and burnout. They also often put others' needs before their own. And they find it hard to stay within their limits.
Mindfulness helps with creating some internal space. In this space, one can become aware of thoughts and feelings. One can also begin to identify needs and desires. This awareness is essential for people like my clients. After years of people-pleasing, they often feel like they no longer know themselves.
This self-awareness is the first step in self-care. It lets you manage feelings and build self-compassion. You learn to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you give to others. It's also the foundation of determining boundaries and communicating them well.
Mindfulness helps you move away from perfectionism.
If you're like my clients, you spend most of your time avoiding your thoughts and feelings. You believe being more aware of your thoughts and feelings will be awful, making you hesitant about mindfulness.
But in reality, it's the avoidance of thoughts and feelings that increases anxiety and makes you feel worse. Anxiety makes it easy to fall into perfectionism as a way to feel in control. But, perfectionism is a form of fake relief, leading to more stress and burnout.
Mindfulness is training your body differently. It's teaching your mind and body to be present and less judgmental. Mindfulness lets you notice thoughts and feelings without automatically reacting.
In this space of being present, stress loses its grip, and you no longer view your thoughts and feelings as awful. Mindfulness helps you let go of thoughts and feelings without avoiding them while, at the same time, building the skills to deal with them if needed.
A simple 5-minute mindfulness exercise
When starting with a mindfulness practice, I remind my clients that mindfulness works in the background of their day. So, it's more important to practice mindfulness daily, even if you don't feel very mindful when you do it. It's this consistent practice that trains your mind and body.
And you can start with just five minutes a day! Below is a mindfulness exercise I learned in my training and the one I give my clients when they start.
Set a timer for 5 minutes (it's ok to start with less time and build up to 5 over time).
In your head, start counting your breath. 1 for your inhalation and 2 for your exhalation. 3 for your next inhalation and 4 for your next exhalation. And so on, all the way to 10. You do not need to breathe in any particular way.
If you get to 10 and your timer hasn't gone off, restart from 1.
Next, if you're counting and suddenly realize you've gone past 10, start over with your counting (not your timer).
Finally, if your mind wanders and you lose count, start over with your counting (not your timer).
Do this on repeat until your timer goes off.
Then, you are done!
Therapy With a Perfectionism Therapist Can Help You Develop Healthy Self-Care With Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a journey of self-discovery and self-compassion. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach. It's about learning what resonates with you. If you're ready to take the next step, I would be happy to offer support in learning new self-care techniques. You can start your therapy journey with Live Lekko by following these simple steps:
- Contact us today. You can also call or text 217-402-7817
- Schedule your first appointment at my Illinois-based practice
- Start learning new mindfulness skills
Other Services Offered with Live Lekko
Therapy for perfectionism isn't the only service offered with Live Lekko. I'm happy to offer a variety of mental health services including therapy for stress relief, people-pleasing, and counseling for women. I'm also happy to offer grief and loss counseling and therapy for childhood emotional neglect. Whether you are in Peoria, Springfield, Mahomet, or somewhere in between in Illinois I can help with online therapy. Feel free to visit my blog for more helpful information.