Mindfulness for Managing Anxiety
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the simple act of paying attention and practicing awareness throughout your day. Mindfulness can be very beneficial for anyone who struggles with stress or anxiety, and it’s easy to apply. Unlike meditation, which is often easiest to practice in quiet and solitude, you can be mindful in any situation. When you practice mindfulness, you bring awareness to your body, your emotions, and your surroundings.
How Can Mindfulness Help with Anxiety?
Anxiety usually happens when you become distracted by worrying thoughts and negative emotions. Interestingly, the worries that come with anxiety are almost always associated with something in the future that you feel like you don’t have control over, or something in the past that is continuing to bother you. Anxiety is rarely about the present moment, and that’s where mindfulness comes in. When you practice mindfulness, you bring your attention to the present, focusing on the here and now, and you’re able to fully experience and appreciate what this moment in life has to offer. Mindfulness has been shown to ease anxiety in many ways. It helps you to become more aware of what you’re feeling, so you can recognize and regulate your emotions, and it also increases your ability to focus your attention and tune out distractions. Regularly practicing mindfulness can even improve your sense of self-worth. And it doesn’t just affect your mental state: mindfulness can reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels, helping your whole body to feel more relaxed.
What Are Some Simple Mindfulness Techniques I Can Try?
Mindfulness is a flexible technique that you can use no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Here are just a few ideas for incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine :
Use your daily commute. Instead of drumming your fingers on the steering wheel while you wait for the light to turn green, use those few seconds to take a deep breath, sit up straight, and admire the sunlight streaming through your windshield or the patterns of the rain on your window.
Make a cup of tea. Savor the act of putting the leaves or bag in the cup, watch the steam rise as you pour the water from the kettle, and take a minute to watch the honey dissolve as you stir it in. As you sip your drink, take the time to let the aroma fill your nostrils, and enjoy the warmth of the cup in your hands.
Get a coloring book. It’s not just for kids! Artists have designed a variety of beautiful coloring books designed for adults. Pick one up at the store or print some free pages from the Internet, invest in a brand new set of crayons or pencils, then enjoy the process of watching bright colors fill your paper.
Focus during daily tasks. Pay attention to the cheerful orange color of the carrot you’re peeling as you make dinner. Pop a few bubbles while you do the dishes. Draw a breath of fresh air deep into your lungs when you take the trash to the street. Even household chores can calm anxiety and bring a sense of peace when they become moments of mindfulness.
Why Mindfulness Helps with Anxiety.
Anxiety is almost always about feeling out of control; of the past, the future, or both. By paying attention to what is happening right now, the chances are vastly increased that you will realize you are ‘okay’ in this moment. Anxiety tends to trigger a fight or flight response; which really is only needed in extreme situations. Since the moments in between any troubling times in our life are typically, not emergencies, we can gain a greater sense of control by training our minds and bodies to view ‘this moment’ as a non-emergency and even something to be cherished. That is one of the keys to anxiety management. Many of our therapists focus on incorporating mindfulness into their psychotherapy practice. Contact us today to see if we can help.