DBT Skills Collection

Mindfulness Exercises

What skills 

Consciously perceiving certain situations:

- Breathing feet: feeling your way forward. Close your eyes and walk barefoot, try to perceive what your feet feel (e.g. grass, stones, pavement, carpet, tiles, etc.)
- The nose animal - try to smell something (e.g. flowers, essences, spices, fruits, essential oils, when eating and drinking, perfume in a drugstore, tea/coffee shop, body cream, fresh baths, when walking, etc.)
- Feel your own breath: observe how the breath flows in, spreads and flows out..., inhale and exhale attentively and consciously, count the breaths while jogging and try to prolong the exhalation, do the same while walking or even at rest, take a deep breath, hold it, count to 4, then exhale very slowly, connect the deep inhalation and exhalation with a word or mantra, e.g. with the words of relaxation, falling asleep (the word should have at least two syllables), going down with the upper part of the body when breathing out, counting breaths (always count up to 10, then start at 1 again, exhale through the mouth into a balloon or a small plastic bag (especially if you tend to hyperventilate).
- The recording device: listening carefully to something around you..., sounds from outside..., what sounds are around me at this moment (15 seconds to 30 minutes long). Only pay attention to a certain sound, if you feel overwhelmed with all of them at the same time, e.g. only cars, only people, only hearing birdsongs, pay attention to the sounds in a certain situation (when showering, cooking, falling asleep, riding the tram), etc.
- Feel your own limits: asking oneself - how am I actually doing, how do my muscles feel, am I under stress, how much strength do I still have, what needs do I have?
- The camera: try to capture the moment with your eyes or things around you... to be aware of what is happening around me at that moment (choose what I want to be aware of) e.g. in the train station, in a café, in the botanical garden, in my own garden, when walking, from the balcony..., postcard/poster, washing machine, clouds in the sky, water, waves, outdoors, trees, flowers, insects, animals, aquarium, children or other people...
- The master chef: perceive something in your mouth ..., melt chocolate, chew a piece of apple, something sour, something sweet, something bitter, something spicy, lunch, cold drinks, hot drinks, carbonated drinks, etc..
- Feel things inside and around you: e.g. how do I sit on the chair, how do I hold my head, how do I move, what happens when I change my position?
- Thoughts: Perceive thoughts like clouds in the sky or like a wave, like the water in a river, but do not stick to them, let them go.
- Listen to stories: Listening to a story and observing which thoughts and feelings arise, allowing the feelings to move on.
- Touching hands: touching objects with closed eyes (e.g. a stone, a shell, a hedgehog ball), perceiving what the hands feel; e.g. when gardening (flowers, plants, earth, sand), in the forest or on a meadow (roots, trees, grass, stones, animals), different brushes, blind games (putting things into a bag and later feel and touch them with one hand), bags of sand or cherry stones (warmed up, or cooled), various fabrics, groping around the room in the dark, feeling your own body, massaging your own or other people's feet, shoulders, arms, footbath, touch book (children's book or self-made), etc..

Describe consciously certain situations:

Reporter: Describe with many adjectives - if possible without judgment - what you see as if you were a tourist from outer space and did not know life on earth at all. (e.g. a room, what happens on the street, people you meet, nature, a market place, objects)
- Blind art: Describe an image (picture, photo) so that someone who is blind could get a clear idea of what it looks like.
- Inner reporter: Describing what you feel inside yourself (e.g. your thoughts, emotions or physical reactions).
- Mirror: Stand in front of a mirror and describe loudly what you see in the third person. For example: "I see a young woman..." (use a lot of adjectives, if possible without judgement).

Participate consciously in certain situations:

- The raw egg: place an egg on the table with the bulbous side down without breaking the egg. Observe your thoughts as you do so. With a lot of patience you will succeed.
- Do something mindful: realize what you do at the moment, don't think about the before or after, stay concentrated (e.g. brushing teeth, making coffee, going for a walk, walking backwards, dancing, brushing, juggling, being with a child, petting an animal, reading poetry, reading, doing household, doing dishes in a concentrated way, playing an instrument in a concentrated way, etc.
-  Mikado: throw a complicated pattern and pull out the sticks without moving anything.
- Counting: count from 1 to 10 in a concentrated way in the rhythm of your breath, then start again from 1. If you are distracted by thoughts and feelings, let them go and start counting again at 1.

How skills:

- Accept: to accept the situation as it is
- Concentrate: concentrate on one thing only, concentrate on the moment.
- Be effective: do what is necessary for the situation (e.g. when it starts to rain, find a dry shelter; when being tired, take a rest, etc.)

Dealing with emotions:

- Being mindful of positive experiences (perceiving and accepting them)
- Describe good feelings
- Put emotional myths into perspective (e.g. such myths: "To show feelings means that I am weak; feelings are stupid; others can judge how I am better)
- Reducing emotional vulnerability: having illnesses examined and treated, going to the doctor, getting information about them, eating a balanced diet, drinking regularly, drinking enough water every day, avoiding drugs, regular exercise to become strong and stay healthy, exercising in moderation, getting enough sleep: making sure you get enough sleep, self-discipline: doing something every day and getting it done to get a feeling of competence and control.
- Letting go of emotional suffering
- To make this difference clear to yourself: My thoughts are products of my mind. The thought "the situation is threatening" is only my thought. When I do a reality check, I see if a danger is actually present.
- Write an emotional protocol (describe the situation, thoughts, physiology, emotions, impulses for action and actual actions taken)
- Gather positive experiences and enjoyable activities: Consciously plan daily activities that could be delightful.
- Remember times when you felt different (photos, diary)
- Thinking about the meaning and effects of emotions
- Describe uncomfortable feelings

Take the opposite action against the direction of the emotion:

- Fear: Stay in the situation and fight the fear actively!
- Anger and rage: Relax your shoulder and chin muscles, take a deep breath, count slowly to 5 before you respond, put a "mild smile" on your lips, put yourself in the other person's position, say something friendly and comforting or try to get out of the way.
- Depressive mood: Stay active.
- Jealousy: Recognise and accept jealousy; actively try to maintain a friendly relationship with the supposed competitor ( except: Couple relationships demand a confrontation.
- Disgust: Expose yourself to the disgusting smell, taste or skin perception and get used to it.
- Make up for something (with yourself or with others).
- Envy: Perceive the feeling as such, name and accept it; collect arguments why the other person "deserves" to own their desired object.
- Shame: Stay in the situation, show yourself in public, show an upright posture, make it clear that the shame is only in your head, make sure of your strengths and advantages.
- Guilt: Stay in the situation, don't apologize, accept that things can happen uncontrollably.
- Grief: The funeral process should be completed, it then dissolves by itself. In the case of excessive mourning, it is recommended to limit the mourning to certain places and times.  Mourning rituals serve this purpose.
Important Disclaimer:
This is an information website and is maintained and supported by affected persons, volunteers and helpers. Under no circumstances does the information replace professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. We do not offer medical, legal or psychological advice. Our compilations and information are based on our own experience, personal assessments and Internet research. The information & skills presented are intended to help you and support you in your everyday high-stress situations or dangerous situations. And, to encourage you - you are not alone!
The contents of stress-killers.com cannot and may not be used to make diagnoses or start treatments on your own.
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