Techniques for State Management (1)
It is important that those who encounter challenging behaviour are able to respond in productive and helpful ways. This isn’t always easy, and depending on the situation it may require specific techniques for managing state.
Techniques drawn from meditative practices such as mindfulness can often help in situations where our own state is likely to impact our ability to manage a challenging situation.
Take some time to read through the information about techniques in the next few sections. Try the techniques out; try to decide which techniques would be most useful to you.
Having already identified the factors that impact your state and how these manifest, you’ll now need to spend some time considering the techniques that will best help you to manage your state.
Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular practice, enjoying a surge of interest both in the popular press and in psychotherapy literature. The term “mindfulness” has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, the practices that promote this awareness, a mode of processing information and a character trait.
For the purposes of this course, we have chosen to define mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement. Mindfulness combines breathing techniques with grounding and visualisation, depending on which exercise is chosen.
A typical mindfulness meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.
The theorised benefits of midfulness are:
- “affect tolerance” – the abiltity to react healthily to stimuli that would usually evoke a stressed response
- enhanced flexibility
- equanimity – calmness and composure, particularly in a difficult situation
- improved concentration and mental clarity
- emotional intelligence
- the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance and compassion.
The most specific benefits identified by research into mindfulness techniques are: reduced rumination, reduced stress, improvement in focus, cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and working memory and decreased emotional reactivity.