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Beyond Therapy: Building Resilience and Success with a Morning Mindfulness Routine

Conversations about therapy inevitably come up with my many clients, family members and friends. Discussions invariably lead to comments such as, “My therapist saved my life.” Or, “Therapy is just not for me.” To some extent, both of these statements lack validity. Therapy is not for those who need it—it is for those who want it.

Even if someone attends therapy weekly for an hour, they still have 167 hours of life to live outside of the safe space of their therapist’s office. Doing the work to regulate emotions, apply adaptive coping strategies, stay compliant with medication, and utilize the other relevant skills learned in sessions will often dictate whether enjoyment and optimum success from mental health therapy is achieved. Essentially, ‘you get what you put in,’ like everything else in life.

The information in this article is intended to supplement what is learned in therapy. It is meant to collaborate with, and not contradict, the tools learned from individual treatment plans. A helpful strategy that has been = effective for clients is to create a morning routine. It is not reinventing the wheel and techniques were adapted from author Hal Elrod’s popular book, ‘The Miracle Morning,’ to create a quick 10-minute routine that instills mindfulness, self-care, and performance enhancement into daily routines. The acronym for Hal’s fundamental activities is SAVERS, which stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. It is apparent after a quick read through his book, a browse through his Facebook page, or a listen to his podcast, that his followers have created thousands of different ways to do this routine.

Here are some suggestions adapted for an easy strategy in the effort to eliminate barriers:

  • Use sticky paper or letters and attach messages on the mirror used most in the morning. These should have sayings written on them like: ‘Mind My Thoughts’ and ‘Stronger Than Yesterday.’ These are two very strong affirmations denoting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and personal growth models utilized in therapy.
  • Next, it is beneficial to take a few moments to stretch, do a yoga pose, do some push ups, or walk the dog; just a small amount of exercise to get oxygen flowing to the brain.
  • Then, it is a great idea to read something inspirational. There are devotionals, religious texts, apps, and several other sources to access uplifting content.
  • Afterward, take a moment or two concentrating on your breathing, with eyes closed, focusing on affirmations or enjoying free thought.
  • Finally, writing down the day’s activities is another way to start on a positive note. If there is a topic of interest for journaling that day, jot it down, too. Prioritize the list; there may be tasks that need to be done that day and others that can wait. That’s okay. It is enough. Visualize what it will feel like when that task is scratched off the list. Visualize being capable of anything. Think or say, ‘I am becoming my ideal self.’

Implement these ideas based on what feels most comfortable to you. Talk to a trusted therapist or loved one and ask for input. Remember, therapy is just one piece of the puzzle; it’s what you do in daily life that truly shapes your mental health in the long run. So, embrace this routine, adapt it to suit your needs, and watch as it enhances your overall well-being. Here’s to a brighter, more mindful future.

Duane Boyd, LMSW, is a therapist at Brook Lane’s outpatient clinic in Cumberland, MD, specializing in depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. With degrees from Allegany College of Maryland, Frostburg State University, and Salisbury, he utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Internal Family Systems, and Mindfulness Training. Outside of work, he enjoys chess, painting, and real estate renovations, and cherishes time with his wife and 11-year-old daughter.