Health & Happiness: Slowing down for summer

By Camille Keith

Summer is a time to relax and slow down. School is out, and many people think about taking vacations this time of year. Whether you are going out of town or not, this can be a time to destress.

Instead of worrying about the past or anticipating the future, take time to notice what is around you. You might start by observing the different colors and shapes you can see. Many people find it helpful to engage all of their senses. In addition to noticing what you can see, take a moment to notice what you can hear, smell, touch, and taste. Tuning into our senses can help us feel more grounded, which often reduces anxiety.

The practice of focusing on the present moment is called mindfulness. Part of mindfulness is observing without judging. Our goal is merely to notice our thoughts and feelings. When we separate our emotional response from our thoughts we may gain a new perspective and a new way of doing things.

Mindfulness helps us notice our thoughts and feelings, before we act on them. Thoughts and feelings aren’t bad. Remember that they are separate from our actions – just because you have a negative thought about someone, doesn’t mean you have to say something mean to that person. Once you become aware of your thoughts you get to choose what you want to do next.

Mindfulness can be a first step in processing your emotions. Counseling can further help you process your emotions and practice mindfulness techniques.

Camille Keith, MS, NCC is an LPC Intern under the supervision of Tara Sanderson PsyD, and provides individual counseling to help you clarify your values and maintain your sense of self in relationships. For more information, call (971) 295-1547 or visit