In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in touch with the present moment and being open to experiences as they come.  The practice of mindfulness has been around for ages.  However, mental health professionals are just beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

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Mindfulness is made up of a number of skills

Staying in the present comes easier with the development of certain skills. Here is list of a few skills that will help you with your mindfulness technique.

Awareness

One skill of mindfulness is learning how to focus your attention on one thing at a time.  This includes being aware of and able to recognize all the things that are going on around you (sights, sounds, tastes, smells) as well as all of the things that are going on inside you (feelings, thoughts).

Nonjudgmental Observation

This skill is focused on looking at your experiences in a non-judgmental way.  That is, simply looking at things in an objective way as opposed to labeling them as either “good” or “bad.”  An important part of this skill is self-compassion.

Being in the present moment

Part of mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment as opposed to being caught up in thoughts about the past (also called rumination) or future (or worry).  An aspect of this skill is being an active participant in experiences as opposed to being “stuck on auto pilot.”

Beginner’s Mind

Focuses on being open to new possibilities. It also refers to observing or looking at things at they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or evaluate them to be.

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness takes practice. You can bring mindfulness to any activity that you tend to do without thinking such as eating, washing dishes, cooking, taking a shower, driving, or listening to music.

 

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Mindfulness: The art of focusing one’s attention

By paying attention throughout your day, you’ll realize you are bombarded with things that want to require your attention.  These distractions can be overwhelming. Practicing mindfulness helps regulate that to which you pay attention.

Focus Your Attention

This skill will help you improve your concentration, memory, and to have general mental clarity. Here are some steps to enhance your ability to focus your attention.

  • Become intent on paying attention
  • Decide on something to focus your attention on (ie. your breath, your heartbeat or a particular object)
  • Notice your surroundings
  • Acknowledge any distractions while setting them aside
  • Bring your focus back to your intention
  • Do steps 2-5 over as necessary

Live in the moment

 

Staying Focused

The ability to focus and to do so for a longer period of time is skill useful to everyone. A disciplined mind creates a pathway to your success. Training your mind to focus and to stay focused requires practice and patience. Here are some steps to help with your ability to stay focused.

Plan and visualize a few critical tasks each day

Our thoughts generate feelings, feelings lead to action, and action leads to results.  As a part of your morning routine, define and visualize a few critical tasks you need to complete during the day. It will make accomplishing them a little easier

Find your peak hours

Some people perform better during the day, while others do great during the night. To find your most productive hours – the “peak hours” – you should actively measure your productivity during various hours of the day. Pay attention to your energy, thought patterns, distractions, motivation, and moods while experimenting different work hours.

Avoid multitasking

Multitasking has been proven to reduce our cognitive abilities due to the fact that the brain can only fully focus on one task at a time. Even though multitasking can be beneficial in various situations, its best to give your full attention to the task at hand.

Treat your mind like a muscle

We need to exercise our minds just as we do our bodies. Training your brain to stay focused is a matter of practice. Every time you experience distracting thoughts, you have to acknowledge them for what they are – time and attention killers.

Practice discipline

Discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.

Avoid distractions

You can’t train your brain to stay focused unless you ensure that your external environment also lacks distractions. Your phone, for example, should never disturb your attention. Turn off the notifications, say “NO” whenever someone interrupts you, and be committed to cut off every possible distraction around you.  Stay off social media.  Doing so can make a world of difference to your ability to stay focused.

Developing healthy habits and routines

Your minds recognizes patterns and routines to make your life easier. For example – when you brush your teeth and wash your face in the morning, you’re probably doing so automatically without using any significant amounts of focus, energy, and motivation. Building productive habits will train your brain how to behave at different yet specific times.

Practice mindfulness

So staying focused helps with mindfulness and mindfulness helps with staying focused.  Mindfulness implies self-awareness. Practicing mindfulness is nothing more than focusing your entire attention on the present moment. Your present thoughts and feelings, the environment that surrounds you, your breath, your heartbeat…you choose. It doesn’t matter what you focus on – as long as you’re “here”, “now”, your mind is present.

 

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About PLAN

We are a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to future care planning for disabled adults due to mental illness. Incorporated in 1999, PLAN was formed by a group of families with disabled family members — mostly sons and daughters — concerned about who would care for their disabled dependents when they were no longer able to do so themselves.

PLAN of Central Ohio offers an activities program where clients can form friendships, practice social skills and just have fun. We meet two times a month, transporting clients to and from each activity. Our case manager/client ratio is approximately 1 to 5 to provide a safe, supervised outing. Our program includes casual dinners at inexpensive restaurants, outings to movies and trips to local places of interest.  We have been able to continue our activities program in a safe, socially-distanced way, despite the COVID-19 epidemic.  We also offer Zoom-based activities to meet the needs of those who do not wish to be out and about in these unprecedented times.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

How long have you been around?

We were formed in 1999 by a group of families with disabled family members.

What is your mission?

PLAN of Central Ohio’s mission is to provide enhanced quality of life for individuals with mental illness.

What do your services consist of?

We provide a once weekly lunch club that is socially distanced and in person.  We also provide Zoom care coordination to address concerns that arise in individuals and their care as well as concierge support as needed should an individual need groceries or assistance with daily activities or crisis navigation.  Additionally, we provide zoom classes monthly in the form of yoga, movement, music appreciation, and fun facts to encourage socialization. We provide supplemental care coordination when individual needs “fall through the safety net” and support to families who are experiencing caregiver burnout.

What is Zoom care coordination?

When an individual needs someone to talk to in a time of need they can access our care coordinators via phone or Zoom. Talks can range from simple process sessions designed to address current stressors and concerns to support needs during times of crisis. We have transported clients for emergency psychiatric evaluation.  We deliver groceries and help with pet care.  We deliver meals from restaurants so that our client’s needs during COVID-19 are respected.

What is private pay mental health home care

The services we provide could easily fall under this umbrella and are designed for individuals who do not meet Medicaid criteria for case management services.

How do you get your referrals?

We get referrals from attorney who work as conservators for disabled individuals as well as family and friends who are interested in additional support for their loved one.

How do you address caregiver burnout?

We hold annual caregiver support workshops for caregivers of disabled adults.  These workshops offer a great deal of education on mental health first aid and burnout.  We offer a safe forum for caregivers to discuss their concerns and receive supportive feedback from others navigating the same issues.

What does a typical Plan client look like?

Our clients come from families who are seeking additional support in the form of structured activities to improve quality of life in the individual.

Who can become a member? 

Families, friends, potential and active clients who would like to access our services.

What is included in membership? 

There is an annual fee that allows individuals and their supports access to our programming.  To participate in lunch club and receive care coordination services there is an additional fee of $30.00 per hour plus mileage.

What are you doing to address COVID-19 in terms of your programming?

We are committed to ensuring that our activities are safe and socially distanced when meeting in person and provide the bulk of our content via Zoom to make sure that the needs of our clients and staff are respected.