Mindfulness skills used in dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) treatment allow people to learn how to recognise and accept their emotions.
Recently, clinicians have acknowledged the benefits of incorporating mindfulness-based approaches into cognitive behavioural therapies for patients with borderline personality disorder or anxiety disorders.
However, people anywhere on the mental health spectrum can benefit from incorporating mindfulness techniques into their daily lives.
DBT mindfulness skills promote a present-moment focus, non-judgemental awareness, and a coping mechanism. The overall goal of mindful activities is to develop a healthy relationship with one’s emotions, improving emotion regulation skills.
Hopefully, this article can provide you with ten useful DBT mindfulness exercises to ease your mind.
10. Watch a leaf for five minutes – a mindfulness practice for being in the moment
Grab a leaf and give it your full attention for five minutes; notice the colours, the shape, etc. This meditation will bring you into the present moment allowing your mind to focus solely on the leaf. This mindfulness meditation will help to ease your mind.
9. Meditate with your thoughts – a DBT mindfulness exercise to enhance your awareness
A meditation where you sit quietly for 15 minutes will help bring attention to your body and mind. Bring your awareness to your thoughts, and let them pass by without judgement. If your mind wanders, acknowledge what causes the distraction, then let it pass.
This exercise frees your mind and enhances your awareness of your thoughts.
8. Describe your emotions – identify events, thoughts, and emotions
This DBT mindfulness exercise is a way for the person to identify their emotional reactions to events and activities in their life. It can be beneficial when addressing painful emotions to past trauma as well.
Practising behaviour therapy skills such as describing emotions will improve emotion regulation.
7. Listen to your favourite songs – mindfully listen to lyrics and give the songs your full attention
Again another way of focusing and bringing your attention to the present is through listening attentively. Pull up your favourite song, and listen to its words and meaning. Pay attention to the instruments, and try to list all the sounds used.
This is a great way of realising that sometimes what we do daily can go above our heads. Therefore, this mindful exercise will return your focus to the little details. We have a few songs we can recommend!
6. Mindful breathing – a basic grounding technique to reduce anxiety and bring our focus to the centre
Refocusing your attention on your breathing will ground you in the present moment when you experience negative emotions or thoughts. Mindful breathwork can be as simple as sitting quietly and slowing your breath.
You will reduce your anxious feelings and allow your body to gain more oxygen from deep breathing. This simple DBT mindfulness exercise will positively impact your mind and body when performed daily.
5. Develop your ‘wise mind’ – a technique to help with positive and balanced thinking
The ‘wise mind’ term was introduced by the founder of dialectical behaviour therapy, Marsha Linehan. According to Linehan, the wise mind lies between the emotional mind and reasonable mind.
This encourages you to use your wise mind and be aware of both your emotions and reasoning. Are you being too emotional or too factual? Where does your balance lie?
4. Let go of any judgement – let’s rewrite the judgement into non-judgement
This exercise is a way to move negative thoughts into non-judgemental thinking. Describe the situation factually without negative wording. Write down your own thoughts and feelings but remove any judgement from the description.
This helps the person using the exercise to remove negativity from their thinking and comments on life events, and turns this negativity into a non-judgement response.
3. Try some people watching as a release – removing yourself from your mind at times
When you need a break to ease your mind, try becoming a people watcher. This is a simple exercise or hack to reduce stress and practice non-judgement on others.
Just sit yourself at a park bench or a cafe and watch the people around you go about their day.
2. Practice body scanning – it will help you reconnect with your body so you better recognise what it needs
Sometimes living a busy modern life with so many distractions can create a disconnect from our bodies. We can come home from work after a busy day and feel like all we want to do is sleep. This is often overlooked, and the cycle continues until burnout happens.
By learning to relax, scanning through your body, and listening to how everything feels and what it needs, you start to reconnect. A DBT mindfulness practice enables you to understand your body’s needs, and then you can adapt your lifestyle to support your body.
1. Learn about thought defusion – a useful DBT mindfulness exercise to ease your mind and separate your thoughts
Negative thoughts can often overtake the mind and dictate your day, leading to unproductive behaviour and unnecessary stress.
When we practise thought defusion, we learn to disperse thoughts from reality and become more mindful of the current situation.
Other notable mentions
Try not to worry about always being “right”: Don’t get hung up on the feeling of needing to be right all the time, and let your mind have a day off.
Always be engaged in the current activity: Avoid overthinking and losing the feeling of your current activity. When walking, become aware of your surroundings. When eating, actively think about your food’s taste and texture.
Practice compassion to yourself: Affirm mantras to yourself and accept your life as it is.
FAQs about DBT mindfulness
What Is DBT Mindfulness?
DBT mindfulness is an approach to behaviour change that focuses on positive thinking, connecting to the present moment, and practising non-judgement thinking. It is a powerful tool.
How does mindfulness fit into DBT and CBT?
The practice of mindfulness fits into both DBT and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as both therapies work on feelings, thoughts, and behaviour.
Why does mindfulness matter?
The concept of mindfulness matters because the practice helps to reduce feelings of despair, anxiety, and stress and helps people learn to cope better in certain circumstances.