MINDFULNESS: HOW IT MAY REDUCE ANXIETY
This blog briefly discusses using a mindfulness practice to reduce anxiety. Overwhelming thoughts and worrying about the future can create anxiety. For some, past trauma can be triggered bringing the past into our present. Mindfulness is about becoming aware of your present moment and where you are right now, which may assist in reducing anxiety. Accepting and acknowledging, without judgement, how you are feeling, your thoughts, and the physical sensations that you are experiencing is the basis of mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be practiced in moments of stillness, or it can be an active practice. There are many things you do every day that can become a mindfulness practice for you. Walking, brushing your teeth and eating are just a few examples. Mindfulness can be meditation practice that you set time aside for, or it can be incorporated into your life without needing to find extra time in your day.
A SEATED PRACTICE
You don’t need to sit on the floor with your legs crossed if this is uncomfortable for you. You can sit on a chair, a cushion, anywhere that is comfortable for you. Bring your awareness to all the points of contact between your body and the surface you are sitting on. Notice the feeling of clothing that is touching your body, and the temperature of your body. Feel the cool air entering your nose as you breath in, and the warm air as you breathe out. Allow awareness of any sensations within your body, your thoughts, and your feelings. No judgement of what you notice, only acknowledgement. Accept whatever it is that you are experiencing in this moment. How long you practice is up to you and there is no wrong of doing this. If you are new to meditation, perhaps begin with 5 minutes and build up slowly from there.
MOMENTS OF YOUR DAY PRACTICE
Eating a meal can become a mindful practice. Savour each and every bite of food. Eat slowly and with awareness. A popular mindfulness practice is to place a square of chocolate (or substitute for any other food you like) in your mouth. Don’t chew, allow the chocolate to dissolve slowly. Notice and savour the flavour and the texture. Many of the things you do every day like brushing your teeth, cleaning etc., when done with awareness of the moment and noticing each movement and sensation can become part of your mindfulness practice.
MOVEMENT AS PRACTICE
Whether you enjoy walking for exercise, or use it as a way to get from one place to another during your day, walking can be an opportunity to practice mindfulness. As you walk focus your mind on walking. Notice the pressure under your feet, the air moving in and out of your lungs, the movement of your arms and leg. Yoga is a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness. Being aware of your body and the sensations you experience, allowing your mind to stay in that moment. Any kind of physical activity that you engage in can be an opportunity for you to practice.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN I AM EXPERIENCING ANXIETY?
When you are experiencing anxiety it can sometimes feel impossible to slow down speeding thoughts, or to think of anything beyond the uncomfortable and distressing physical sensations of panic you may be experiencing. This is a result of your fight or flight (or freeze) response being triggered. Your body has received signals to prepare to fight or run, resulting in (and this may be a different experience for each person experiencing anxiety):
• increased heart rate,
• more oxygen entering your body to prepare your muscles for action (which if not being used can make some feel light headed),
• digestion stops (butterflies in your tummy, nausea and other digestive system upsets) and,
• your mind relentlessly focusing on the cause of your anxiety (this was intended to help us focus on a potential threat).
Whatever practice you may chose to work with to reduce anxiety, the key is to practice consistently when you are not experiencing anxiety. Anything you practice consistently will become more automatic for you. This means when you need it, it is easier to access. When you are experiencing anxiety, it is unlikely that you will remember what to do if it is something new and a practice that you are not familiar with. If a mindfulness practice is something you regularly do, and it becomes a part of your day, it is more likely that you will be able to engage with the practice in the moments you may need it the most.
A popular practice in psychology is to notice
• 5 things you can see
• 4 things you can touch
• 3 things you can hear
• 2 things you can smell
• 1 thing you can taste.
If you find this hard to remember in the moment, try bringing your awareness to 1 thing with each sense.
It can be helpful when you are experiencing anxiety to use mindfulness to ground yourself. Simply noticing the clothing touching your body and noticing your surroundings can assist. Of course, there are many other practices that can help you if you experience anxiety and you may find that mindfulness is not for you. If you would like more information you can read some of my other blogs, or contact me for an obligation free discussion about how I may be able to assist you.
If you are experiencing challenges such as stress, anxiety, panic, trauma, grief or any emotions or feelings you need assistance with, do not think you have to work through things by yourself. Some things you may be able to address yourself. However, sometimes we can benefit from additional support and assistance. Can you reach out to a supportive friend or family member and talk things through? Or, talking with a counsellor or other helping professional may assist you in finding your own way to work with your challenges.
If there are issues and circumstances that you need support and assistance to work through, please contact me for an obligation free, confidential discussion as to how I may be able to assist you. I am clinical hypnotherapist (Clinical member AHA), a counsellor (Member ACA), yoga and meditation teacher. I specialise in Stress, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and other related challenges. Online and phone sessions are available.
Inner Mind Therapies
Ph 0403 357 656