EMDR & Home Therapy Exercises Part 5 “Chores”

I have learned a lot over the last 3 ½ years when it comes to what works when I am overwhelmed with triggers and heavy emotions. Some of the worse times for triggers are when I am doing household chores. A good example is when I do the dishes. I go on auto pilot when doing them and that is when the thoughts, triggers and emotions sneak in.  All the everyday chores a Mom must do are the type of chores I would have the hardest time with all the thoughts coming up. At any given moment of any day you could catch me balling my eyes out, frozen from the hurt, paused in time, in the middle of doing a chore.   

A little over a year and half ago during an appointment with my EMDR therapist I learned what to do when I was doing household chores to help process all the triggers I was having.  At the time I was having a hard time at work.  I was having to open boxes upon boxes of wood flooring.  My therapist brought up using a cross body motion to slice the boxes open.  The next day I sliced those boxes open with passion.  After the relief I received from this I started to implement the same thing to all chores I did.  After this second D-DayI am using this same therapy tool again. 

The way to do this exercise is simple.  When you are doing everyday household chores turn them into a chore where you use your body in a left to right rhythm. This is very similar to when Daniel in The Karate Kid does the “Wax on and wax off.” If you are unable to do the whole-body rhythm use your left hand, then switch to your right hand. A good example is when I vacuum, I push the vacuum with my left arm and pull back with my right. When I do dishes, I make sure I am passing the dish from one hand to the other. When cleaning counter tops I do the same thing.   I try to get the largest left to right motion and keep at a good fast paced rhythm. I allow all the triggers to come at me. I don’t try to control my thoughts or emotions. They tend to go as fast as they come when I would normally go on a roller coaster ride with my thoughts. As long as I keep a good pace, the thoughts are getting processed the way my brain can handle it best and in turn keeping myself from suffering anymore physical ailments.

This is a great way to process your thoughts and get them “filed away neatly” in your brain. I have noticed while going through this second recovery round I am having an easier time processing my triggers and find myself naturally doing the exercises and tools I learned from before.  When you practice all the different at home therapy exercises and tools you develop a second nature to processing your triggers that can provide some relief.    

Link to all At Home Therapy Tools

Leaves on a Stream at Home Exercise, EMDR.

Leaves on a Stream is the second most utilized tool I use at home. This was the first tool my therapist taught me the very first day I saw her.  This exercise has been helpful if I have a lot of thoughts going through my head at a fast pace or if I am in a crowded space such as a restaurant.  This tool is a great way to slow those thoughts down, process and release them in an effective way.

To begin, find a quiet spot to relax. If you are unable to find a quiet spot you can use headphones or earplugs to drown out the background noise.  Imagine a stream in the woods (finding music that matches helps.)  Spend a good amount of time imagining the stream and the forest surrounding it.  The weather, the fall leaves, the location, the rocks in the stream, whatever you come up with as long as it is relaxing. Get a good feeling of being there.

Now you are going to imagine leaves going down the stream.  They travel from upstream heading downstream at a steady speed from right to left. Are there a lot, a little? Take each thought that crosses your mind and place it on a leave on the stream.  Each one of your thoughts gets placed on a leaf.  You begin to watch your thoughts go from left to right in a steady speed. Watch these thoughts come and go. If one is hard to let go and wants to linger go ahead and pick it up. Examine it, acknowledge it then place it down to let it continue it’s journey down the stream. Do this however long you feel necessary.

If you need more help to visualize this exercise there are many videos on http://www.Youtube.com

Let me know if you have done this exercise before or you just tried it for the first time?  What did your stream look like? Did this exercise help you? Any deviations you think would be helpful?