Updated August, 2021
Mindfulness skills can be applied to everyday life, used on an ordinary, everyday basis.
We continue with learning the subtle points of DBT Mindfulness Skills for daily life. The first post about Mindfulness Skills for Daily Life covered “What” skills: Observe, Describe, Participate as in “What” to do as you incorporated mindfulness into the activities of your daily life.
The next set of DBT Mindfulness Skills are “How” to incorporate mindfulness in everyday life: Nonjudgmental, One-Mindfully and Effectively.
You can gain positive benefits from sprinkling sparkly mindfulness skills into your seemingly hohum everyday events. Let’s look into using the “How” skills during driving, in order to prevent and manage road rage.
DBT “”How” Skills” of Mindfulness
Practice observing and receiving reality as it is, without evaluation. For example, if someone cuts you off, refrain from ascribing all sorts of meaning to it, such as “Oh, they are being petty and mean to me'” or “They are are disrespecting me,” or “How dare they cut me off!” These feelings and thoughts can spiral off into allowing yourself to indulge in road rage.
Instead, let go of seeing what happens on the road as good or bad. Try to just observe that you were cut off and then continue on participating in your driving experience in a responsible manner, without judging it.
Being nonjudgmental doesn’t mean that you deny consequences or that you don’t have your own preferences. Instead, acknowledge that something is helpful or not helpful with our judging it. Judgement can cause alot of emotional pain. You can like or dislike something without judging it. When you’re cut off in traffic, it’s helpful to keep driving responsibly without getting caught up in road rage. It is not helpful to get caught up in road rage and drive irresponsibly and erratically. Choosing to use the Mindfulness Skill of nonjudgement helps cool down your emotions and choose a more helpful way of being.
One-Mindfully means being consciously in the present moment. This means experiencing your life more fully, as you attend to the present moment, to what you are experiencing in the moment.
If you are driving, drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drive and try to pick up the stuff that feel out of your backpack onto the car floor. Just drive. Don’t drive and try to argue with your girlfriend on the phone. Don’t drive and try to check your calendar for a free Saturday night to go out with friends.
Just drive. Be in your experience. There is an enjoyable feeling just being in the car, paying attention to the road, and responsibly viewing the trees and sun around you.
Research shows that multi-tasking splinters attention and contributes to anxiety and feelings of dissatisfaction. Multi-tasking causes an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. It’s actually healthier for your body and mind to slow down and concentrate on one important task. When you multitask, you think you are doing more than one task at a time, but you’re actually asking your brain to switch rapidly from one task to another. There is a cognitive cost and an energy cost to this rapid switching. You’re producing mediocre work on multiple tasks and plus it is tiring. Your brain needs time to recover during the day, not just at night.
Attending one-mindfully to your current task is healthy for your body and mind.
Applying the “Effectively” aspect of mindfulness means to keep in mind what works to achieve your overarching goals and then doing what is necessary to achieve your goals. If your emotions are stirred up and you feel like you cannot think clearly, it’s better to not impulsively act on your feelings. Instead, mindfully be Effective. Step back and take some time to think about what you really want to accomplish.
Going back to the road rage theme, following the impulse to get out of your car and yelling at someone at a stop light may feel perversely good in the moment. Overall, this is ineffective. It is quite possible multiple people will record you and your license plate on their phones and you will end up in jail. It is also quite possible the person you are yelling at may be even more aggressive than you. These outcomes are not in service to your outcome goal of uneventfully getting from one place to another in your car, unharmed. So, mindfully use behavior that is effective and in service to your ultimate goals.