You know that person, the one that always challenges your self-control? It might be a colleague you see occasionally at meetings, a friend of a friend, or a relative you only see at holidays. That person is why we need mindfulness-based coping strategies.

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” according to Jon Kabat-Zin. We can use mindful strategies in the face of stressors, like that person, to help us behave in a controlled, thoughtful manner.

Other challenges to self-control include difficult situations, like getting a late charge because you forgot to pay a bill. Still others are the result of cumulative stress—you slept poorly, ate poorly, worked 12 hours straight and, just as you’re getting ready to shut work down for the day, the message arrives from your boss—Aargh, you are not seriously asking me to do one more thing today, are you?

Choose a Mindful Strategy

Having a mindful coping strategy, along with a couple of basic steps to improve self-control, can slow the burn, avoid the meltdown or help with a speedy recovery.

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1. Look for a strategy that feels right for you.

It should be something you feel comfortable doing, that makes logical sense to you and feels good. There is no “right” way to be mindful. You can mix and match counting, breathing, walking, sitting, loving-kindness phrases, or another decompression strategy, whatever works for you.

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