Monday, July 3, 2017

Musing on emotional literacy and self care

In Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), we talk about receiving information through two ways:
  1. One way is in the "here and now" experience through our 5 senses.
  2. The other way of getting information, is from inside our head. The memory of the past and projecting this into the future.  Through our brain's ability to "fuse" with the stories and thoughts inside our head, we can react to these emotionally as if it is in the "here and now".  These stories and thoughts can seem very real!
Both are important of course, but if we spend too much time in our head, it can be very overwhelming and tiring.  This is the result of information overload, where one experiences too many memories of the past and worries about the future.

Hence, it is important to get outside of our head at times.  This is often called "mindful practices".  It helps to bring focus into the "here and now", through our 5 senses.

Some people do this through comfort eating, drinking, smoking, music, physical activities, sport, social media or recreational drugs.  These sensory activities get us out of our head.  One can say that mindful eating is a meditative practice, although watch out if you are doing too much of it!  When we bring our focus out into the "here and now", it's often relaxing and enjoyable!

Other examples of "comforting activities" include bush walking, sight seeing, watching TV, massage, craft, camping, having a hot shower or floating in the pool.  Although if one is doing these activities and one's focus is "still in the head" experience, then this may not be so relaxing!

The point is, we must do some healthy mindful practices, to find a balance between our inner world and outer world experiences.

A focus on any sensory experience is considered a "mindful practice".  Not all sensory experiences are healthy, so choose wisely!

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