Learn about how to practice mindfulness for anxiety – from what mindfulness really is to how you can manage anxiety with its help.
Mindfulness is a very popular word now. You would find most self-help articles mentioning it. The theory of meditation is based on it. And most importantly, even psychiatrists and doctors are prescribing it to tackle physical and mental problems. If you suffer from anxiety disorders and are looking for ways to relieve them, try mindfulness. However, before sharing techniques of using mindfulness to deal with anxiety, let us first understand the term itself.
Mindfulness for Anxiety – contents:
Being in the moment. Yes, the meaning the mindfulness is self-explanatory. It means keeping the mind fully attentive to what you are doing, to what is happening around and being aware of the space you are moving through. You may think that there is no big deal about it, but the fact is most of the times we are unmindful.
We travel in buses unaware of what is happening around us but worrying over office issues. While eating our meals we check our mobiles. We go through our daily chores either lamenting over the past or fretting about the future.
We can define mindfulness as the ability to be fully present in a moment. It involves being aware of where we are, what we are doing and not being overly reactive.
Our minds were designed to be mindful but somehow, we lost that ability while handling our daily stress and anxiety. As life became more complicated, our thoughts got tangled leading to increased stress and anxiety. However, there are ways to become mindful again.
There are several benefits of being mindful and treatment of mental disorders like anxiety is one of them. It has been seen that mindfulness-based therapies or MBTs are very effective in treating anxiety.
Anxiety is the body’s response to stress. It is excessive worrying over a perceived danger that may affect us physically and mentally. Anxiety comes with its symptoms like increased heart rate, breathlessness, tightening of the body and even digestive problems. Severe anxiety can cause medical conditions that require medical help. It is important to realize that anxiety is treatable. It is the most widespread mental disorder with 40 million people in the USA suffering from it.
Anxiety can be treated in several ways of which cognitive-behavioral techniques are one of them. Even medications are available to relieve the symptoms. However, there are a few ways to use the power of our mind to tackle anxiety. Let us learn these techniques so that you can also learn to handle your anxiety successfully.
The best thing about mindfulness is that it is easy to practice. It doesn’t require much time and effort. Only a few minutes of practice would allow you to attain it and fight anxiety effectively. Here are a few such anti-anxiety mindfulness exercises that you can make a part of your lifestyle.
Usually, our minds are preoccupied with the thoughts of the past and the future so much that we are unaware of the thoughts of the present. Taking notice of the thoughts is a great way to calm the mind and keep it grounded in the present. Since anxiety is often a result of excessive worrying about the future, bringing the mind back to the present can help greatly in relieving anxiety.
Take out a few moments out of your busy schedule and sit quietly. Observe the thoughts that cross your mind. Don’t judge them, but just sit back and notice how they are floating in your mind. Don’t force your breath but simply notice it. Your mind may wander away and so gently bring it back.
Slowly your mind would calm down and you would realize the anxiety level subsiding as you remain tuned on to the present thoughts.
Noticing your breathing and controlling the way you inhale and exhale is a great way to remain mindful. It also helps in relieving the symptoms of anxiety. Breathing exercises are simple and can be done anytime and anywhere. Just sit back in a relaxed way.
Notice the way you breathe and count your inhales and exhales. Simple and mindful, immediately your body would start responding to the method and you would feel the anxiety level subsiding. Now, inhale while counting up to 4 and hold your breath in the same manner. Count up to 4 and exhale. Do this for a few moments while focusing on your breathing.
There are various variations to the breathing exercises we have just explained. You can increase the count as you get more control over your breathing. Another way to remain mindful is to place one palm on your belly and one on your heart and feel how you belly inflates when you inhale.
This is an easy technique that you can practice when there is a lot going around you and you need to control your mind. Hold one hand in front of you with the palm turned towards yourself. As you breathe in, use the index finger of the other hand to trace the thumb and pause at the top. As you exhale, trace down the thumb. Follow this with other fingers to trace up while inhaling and tracing down while exhaling. This technique would help you to connect with your breathing and being at the present. It also aids in relieving the symptoms of anxiety as you are focusing away from your worrying thoughts.
Affirmations are simple and positive statements that boost us. They are easy to coin and come with multiple benefits. From replacing negative thoughts with positive ones to increasing our mental strength, affirmations can even help in reducing anxiety.
We need to coin affirmations that address our problem and recite them whenever we feel anxiety striking. A few affirmations that you can use to control anxiety are –
It would be so nice to create your own affirmations and repeat them whenever you feel overwhelmed. You can even write them down on sticky notes and paste them around the house. Keep the most inspiring one on the bedside table so that you see it the moment you wake up.
We have been saying that anxiety is bad. You need to realize that it is not only bad for your mood or body but also for the brain. Yes, anxiety can leave long-lasting effects on the brain by altering its structure and function. Anxiety decreases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for maintaining the memory. It also increases the size of the amygdala, the area that controls fear response. Thus, anxiety affects our memory adversely and makes us more anxious.
On the other hand, meditation also affects the brain, but positively. It reverses the effects of anxiety. Meditation can be an effective tool to fight anxiety. The ways meditation can help in relieving anxiety is by breaking the negative thought patterns, it decreases the tendency to worry, and help you to respond to stress in a positive way.
Meditation increases the size of the brain and makes it healthier too. It has been seen that people who meditate have larger hippocampus and a thicker cortex.
Taking up meditation would be a good decision if you suffer from anxiety. It can help you to relax, break out of the negative thought patterns, reduce stress level and feel empowered.
Let us explain a few meditation techniques that you can adopt to reduce anxiety.
The objective of meditation is to notice the thoughts as they arise and not to make your mind void. So, sit back, relax your body and focus on your breathing. You can chant breathe in and breathe out to keep other thoughts at bay. Be gentle, still and simply observe the thoughts.
Meditating for 10 minutes a day is enough to enjoy its benefits. Even 2-minutes slots would also bring some benefit that you can depend upon. So, start today and use the power of your mind to fight anxiety.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is another technique that can help you to find relief from stress and anxiety. It was developed by Mahesh Yogi and involves using a mantra to focus the mind. This meditation is most widely practiced today, even in the western countries.
TM is easier to practice and requires less effort to control the focus. In this method, we don’t have to focus on any external object or observe our thoughts but simply chant the mantra and concentrate on it till it becomes the loudest thought. The mantra is given by a guru or you can create it yourself. It should be short and positive. Chant it and concentrate on it only. Your mind may divert and other thoughts may emerge. Gently remove them and focus on the mantra only.
At the end of the session, keep quiet for a few moments and enjoy the silence.
Practicing of TM has been seen to reduce anxiety level. Easy to learn and follow, take up TM to beat anxiety and stay connected to your higher self.
Getting relief from anxiety is not difficult if you are ready to embrace a few changes in your life. Simple techniques can help alleviate the problem and help you to lead a stress-free life.
Anxiety is a reality of life and you cannot eliminate it wholly. However, you can control it so that it doesn’t hamper your daily life. it is important to see it in the right perspective.
Anxiety makes us worry about a threat which often doesn’t materialize in real life. maintain a record of the anxious thoughts you experience and how many of them actually came true. You can realize how you overestimate the negative occurrences.
The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an effective tool to fight anxiety. This therapy encourages people to accept that negative thoughts and feelings are inevitable. In this therapy, people are encouraged not to suppress their feelings neither to control them. However, they are trained to divert the attention away from the fear and focus on life and its goals.
Facing the fear – This technique is a powerful one that makes us face the fear. It makes us stay in the situation instead of avoiding it or running away from it. When we stay in the situation, we get habituated with the fear or it comes down. This is a unique way of teaching our mind and body that what we fear is not truly dangerous always.
Learn more about anxiety. Study its symptoms and signs and find out ways to tackle it. Take up meditation, do deep breathing, adopt a healthy lifestyle and keep in touch with friends. Anxiety should not stop you from enjoying your life and hence manage it with the right technique.