3 Simple Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Life


What is mindfulness? Why should you care?  Although the concept has seen a recent surge in popularity, it originated in Buddhist meditation, and was first popularized in the United States by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Practicing mindfulness involves focusing one’s attention and awareness on the experiences of the present moment; accepting what you feel in the moment is another key component.  Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, relieve stress, increase one’s capacity for compassion, improve concentration and focus, and even help the body recover from illness.  The techniques of mindfulness can benefit anyone, and they are simple enough for you to try at home.  Here are a few suggestions to help you cultivate mindfulness in your life.

1. Focus on Sensory Experiences.

This may sound self-explanatory, but many of us miss out on the full effect of an experience because we are too busy multi-tasking or worrying about something else.  Next time you sit down to eat something you really enjoy (like a favorite snack, or a piece of chocolate), make that action your sole focus.  You may be surprised at how satisfying it is!  You should also make a point to notice things in your everyday life that you might otherwise take for granted – like the beautiful scenery you pass on the way to work, or the peaceful quiet of an empty room.  Even if you sometimes observe these things in passing, try to concentrate on really giving them your undivided attention, without letting other thoughts cloud your mind.  In time you will find which experiences produce the strongest positive responses – then you can make a point to seek them out.

2. Practice Meditation.

This doesn’t have to be traditional meditation in the lotus pose chanting a single-word mantra; the goal is to break yourself out of a cycle of negative and unproductive worrying.  One approach is to center your thoughts on the physical sensations your body is feeling, starting with breathing.  Pay attention to each inhale and exhale, and how the air feels as it enters and leaves your lungs (closing your eyes may help).  You’ll probably find that your breathing becomes slower and deeper after a few minutes.  Next focus on the places where your body is touching something, like your feet against the floor or your back against a chair.  Feel these points of contact with your environment and relax into them.

3. Suspend Judgment.

This is the hardest step for most people.  The goal is to stop yourself from making a value judgment about the way you feel or experience the world around you.  The sensations and emotions you feel are what they are; there is no right or wrong way to experience a given moment.  If you find yourself becoming critical, pause for a moment and redirect your thoughts to a more neutral tone.  Making peace with this will help you to build self-kindness and give you a better perspective on your thoughts and worries, as well as fostering greater understanding and compassion in your interactions with others.

Mindfulness is one of many strategies that can help to improve your mental health and psychological wellbeing.  If your outlook does not improve, or you have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide, please seek professional help immediately.  The doctors and therapists at South Denver Psychotherapy will work with you to get past the difficult times. For urgent care, please contact the crisis hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

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“Live like there’s no tomorrow.”

We’ve all heard these types of phrases. These are great, motivational one-liners but actually living in the moment takes practice. To take advantage of this important concept, we need practical, real-life tips. Employing these will help shift our view to apply this in our living instead of letting it slip through one ear and out the other.

Focus on right now.

In this age of everything high-speed at our fingertips, it is hard for to slow down, put away the phone, turn off the computer and TV and just focus on whatever or whoever is in front of you. Even taking pictures of our food or of the moment can keep you from actually enjoying it. Instead, you’re thinking ahead of how you’ll compose the picture, who to tag or who will make comments and what people’s reactions may be.

It may seem like a small thing, but living in the moment can actually reduce stress, give you higher self-esteem and more joy. So next time you’re tempted to Instagram your food or have the TV going on in the background while a friend is visiting, take a moment to consider whether all that is really necessary. Do what you need to do to eliminate that distraction (Turn the TV off, put your phone in another room or leave it in the car) and enjoy what is in front of you. You’ll be surprised how liberating it is!

Be thankful.

This sounds simple, but it is easier said than done. When was the last time you thanked a friend for making you smile? Or, if you’ve been given more work than you can handle, you’re still thankful you have a job? Being thankful and expressing it right when you feel it is a great way to live in the moment. And if you’re in a negative situation, considering all the good things in your life can help bring you into a positive mindset.

Stop worrying.

All you have right now is today. There is no point worrying about the future because it is out of your control and every moment you spend worrying about the future is a moment wasted in the present.  Instead of wasting the current moment, focus on what you can do right then to solve an existing problem or improve the now. If there is nothing you can do, then don’t think about it. Distract yourself by reading a book, calling a friend or getting some exercise. As you learn to disregard those worrisome thoughts, you will find yourself enjoying and fully experiencing the life that is in front of you.

Live in the moment

Why Couple’s Counseling is More than a Last Resort

Couple's Therapy

Learning to live with your spouse is never easy. Every person has their quirks, bad days, coping mechanisms (good or bad) and past baggage. All this comes together to form a complex person who may not always be easy to be with. In many relationships, we don’t address the little things that are bothersome. They pile up, leading to explosive fights, disinterest, a lack of intimacy, affairs and sometimes divorce. This is where couple’s therapy is extremely helpful. Instead of waiting until things get really bad, think of couple’s therapy as a way to maintain a healthy, happy relationship.

Good marriage counseling is helpful in that it gives a knowledgeable, third-party view on your relationship. A counselor can see things that you can’t and help by pointing them out to you. Some examples are:

  • Reasons and history behind reactions
  • Intentions
  • Consequences of certain words and actions
  • Hidden, un-voiced expectations
  • Options you haven’t thought of
  • Beliefs you may not realize you have
  • Relationship patterns

Couple’s therapy really helps you get past the hurt and frustration and see what is behind it. Maybe the way you were raised causes you to fear being wrong or giving a bad suggestion. Because of this, you’re afraid to give a real answer when your spouse asks for your opinion. Since you “don’t” have an opinion, your spouse goes ahead and makes one that you don’t agree with. To your spouse, this is confusing because it seems like you didn’t care or have anything to suggest. But couple’s therapy can help reveal your fear of saying the wrong thing and help you both work through that.

Misunderstandings like these are extremely common – whether in an intimate relationship or not. As a society, we have labeled couple’s therapy or marriage counseling as a sign that your marriage isn’t doing well, but this isn’t true! If you simply desire to improve your relationship, couple’s therapy can be extremely helpful.  Feel free to check out our Couple’s Counseling page or Contact Us to set up an appointment.

Spread the Love: Celebrate Valentine’s Day Every Day.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many people are busy planning something special to surprise their significant other.  But worrying about making Valentine’s Day perfect can be stressful, and one terrific day cannot fix your relationship problems; nor does it make up for all of the other days (when you didn’t make your partner feel special).  So, instead of focusing on a single grand gesture, why not spread the love and appreciation you show on Valentine’s Day throughout the year?  Here are some ideas to get you started.  Note: consult with your significant other before dispensing with Valentine’s Day altogether, or they will probably be disappointed.

Move Past Your Expectations.

The commercial nature of most holidays focuses our attention on buying and giving gifts (like cards, candy, and flowers).  While there is nothing wrong with getting your significant other a nice present every now and then, it can create pressure if your expectations are not on the same page as theirs.  You should also take care to avoid the tendency to conflate the price of the gift with the value of the thought behind it.  Spreading your signs of affection throughout the year can help to alleviate this problem, but you should also be careful that your expectations don’t extend to the day-to-day too.  Talking with your partner is the best way to manage expectations so no one feels hurt.

Use the Languages of Love.

Showing someone how much you care can take many forms.  Saying “I love you” is just the tip of the iceberg.  Helping your partner with chores, or doing something like packing a special surprise in their lunch are great ways to express your feelings.  Initiating physical contact, even simply reaching out to take their hand, is another option for showing your love.  No matter how busy you are, take the time to give your significant other a small sign of your affection every day.  Even the little gestures will go a long way towards strengthening your relationship.

Expand Your Vocabulary.

Whether it’s a sticky note on the mirror or in their lunchbox, or a quick text or voicemail, there are millions of ways to say “I love you.”  So why do we consistently fall back on those three little words?  Overuse can diminish their meaning (and impact) over time.  So shake up your routine by finding new and creative ways to tell your partner how much they mean to you.  Whether you’re complimenting them or putting your feelings into words, they are sure to appreciate the extra effort.

If you still feel like you and your significant other are having trouble connecting, South Denver Psychotherapy is here to help.  Our therapists can show both of you techniques and strategies to improve communication so that you can build a stronger bond with each other.  Call us to set up an appointment.

Vday Everyday


Further Reading




Relationship Trouble?

Relationship Trouble

Focus on Reconnecting This Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day will soon be here, and with it the stress of creating the perfect romantic gesture.  Despite good intentions of celebrating love, this holiday often causes people to reflect on what’s wrong with their love life.  So instead of trying to mask any issues in your relationship with impressive gifts, make an effort to work out your problems with your significant other in the weeks ahead.  (We don’t suggest dispensing with cards, flowers, and candy altogether, especially if those are things you know your partner will enjoy.  Just keep in mind that these things can’t “fix” a relationship.)  Here are some tips to start a productive conversation about your relationship problems.

Communication Is Key.

Your significant other is not a mind reader!  Many times one person is unhappy in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t realize it, or doesn’t understand why.  If something is bothering you, make the time to discuss it with your partner.  You should also check in with each other periodically about your expectations and goals for the future of your relationship.  This will help to prevent misunderstandings and allow you to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Avoid Distractions.

Show your significant other that your relationship is a priority.  Make time to address any problems you’re having without the distractions of the outside world.  Turn off the TV, switch your cell phone to silent, and send the kids to a friend’s house.  Relationships do take work, and both you and your partner need to commit to working out your differences.

Talk, Don’t Fight.

Relationship problems can be a difficult subject to broach with your significant other, and it’s important not to make them feel like they are under attack.  Screaming will not lead to a productive discussion.  So, take a minute (or a day) to cool your temper before confronting your partner.  If you still feel like you can’t talk about your problems without fighting, set aside some time to discuss your concerns with them in a public place; that way you’ll be less likely to yell since you won’t want to make a scene.

Remember to Listen.

Listening doesn’t just mean not interrupting.  You need to focus on what your partner is saying.  It may help to begin addressing his or her concerns by rephrasing them, something like “What I think you’re saying is…”  Then give them a chance to correct you before proceeding with your response.  It’s ok to ask them to clarify; a specific complaint is much easier to work on than a vague one.

If you and your partner are still having trouble resolving conflicts, you may need to find a professional counselor.  A third party can provide valuable perspective, especially if you find your emotions getting in the way of the conversation.  At South Denver Psychotherapy, we work with all kinds of couples to build greater understanding and respect.  Let us help you reach a compromise without feeling resentment.

Additional Resources