What is Mindfulness?
For people who suffer from anxiety, focusing on present times can be more of a challenge than anything else. Feeling of anxiety is triggered when we spend too much of our time worrying about what is to come (I need to pay the bills next week) or ruminating about past experiences (I shouldn’t have done that). While there is definitely nothing wrong with planning ahead and learning from our mistakes, the moment it robs you of enjoying the present moment – then it becomes a hindrance to everyday living.
Practicing the art of being in tune with present times, also known as mindfulness, can be a very helpful tool to include in your anxiety treatment strategy.
According to research, practicing mindfulness can help with anxiety and depression. By learning how to shift your attention on what is happening right now, you can learn to better deal with all sorts of emotions and situations. There is evidence that when people practice mindfulness it can offer decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
How to be More Mindful
Surprise, surprise – there is no right or wrong way to be more mindful. Any experience can help you gain focus and be in charge of your emotions and thoughts.
Know what your intentions are before engaging in an important activity. For example, if you are about to speak in front of a large audience and it is making you anxious, remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. This kind of thinking will help put you at ease about the situation.
Guided Mindfulness and Meditation Practice Works Wonders
You don’t need to be in a temple to meditate; just have a few moments to yourself each day and download an app that offers free meditation or mindfulness activities.
Tap Into Your Inner Child
In the past few years, the emergence of adult coloring books is just proof that doing things we used to enjoy as a child, such as coloring and doodling, can actually help manage stress and anxiety. It works by letting you zero in on your attention to the act of coloring or drawing. It also seems finishing a coloring page, having that sense of accomplishment, can help alleviate stress.
Every now and then head outside and walk. By surrounding yourself with a host of stimuli, such as the wind on your skin, or the sound of birds chirping, it helps calm you down and bring your attention back to reality. Try to keep your cell phone at home so you won’t be tempted to check for notifications. Go for a short walk around the block and gauge how you feel.
Wish for Happiness
No, not for yourself, but for others. According to Chade-Meng Tan, author and former Google pioneer, you just need a few seconds of your time during the day to engage in this activity. This takes place in your head, and the other person doesn’t have to know that you wish them to be happy. It’s all about aligning your energy to a more positive frequency.
Wish Upon a Star
Look at the sky and revel at how vast the universe is. Admire how the stars shine, how bright the moon is, and pretty soon you’ll begin to realize that the email you were dreading to read suddenly feels insignificant. Looking up to the skies at night gives you a sense of how small we all are. What you deemed to be a problem, is simply just an inconvenience that will soon come to pass. Wishing on a star is optional (but highly recommended!)
Make a Cuppa
Whether it’s tea or coffee, prepare a nice, warm cup of your beverage of choice and begin to pay attention to the minute details you don’t really notice on a regular basis. Listen to your coffee maker brew a fresh batch of arabica coffee; admire the way hot water suddenly changes color when you begin steeping your tea; or watch the steam make its way up to your nose. As you take your first sip, inhale deeply and feel the drink almost burn your lips and tongue. This sensual exercise is guaranteed to keep anxiety at bay.
A To-Do List Done Right
Believe it or not, to-do lists can be one of the reasons why some people get anxious. They see a list of things they feel they need to do today and then their mind panics. When done correctly, to-do lists can actually help with your anxiety. After listing down things you want to accomplish, decide which ones are “priority tasks” and then set a timer. Avoid looking at your phone and doing anything else. Stop only when you’re done with the task or the timer sets off.
The sky’s the limit when you begin writing in a journal, or on any piece of paper for that matter. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to jot down anything that’s bothering you. Sometimes seeing it on paper takes away its hold over your emotions and thoughts. Try doing a gratitude journal every night or as soon as you wake up. Write down three things that you are thankful for. It doesn’t matter what these things are — it can be as simple as being able to use your favorite shampoo while you bath — just bringing into focus such things can fight off anxiety.
Social media certainly has its benefits but it can also be a cause for unnecessary anxiety and stress. Log out of all your social media accounts for the time being. Sometimes the act of typing your password again can prevent you from checking out other people’s posts. It wouldn’t hurt to just maintain one account, instead of multiple accounts. One study claims that maintaining more than one social media account in various platforms is causing college students to become more anxious.
Do Household Chores
As mundane as these tasks seem to be, they can actually help you deal with anxious thoughts. Make each chore a sensory activity. For example, as you fold your laundry, notice the texture of the fabric in your hands. Dance while you wash dishes, or sing a happy tune while you mop the floor.
The mind is a very powerful tool. It can play tricks on you if you’re not careful. Learn how to master it by being mindful. No matter how you intend to be more mindful, the bottom line is that it needs to be consistent for it to be effective. Remember that being calm and in the moment can help you deal with the present situation without being impulsive and overreactive.
No matter how you intend to be more mindful, the bottom line is that it needs to be consistent for it to be effective. It may not take the place of a PTSD treatment prescribed by a health practitioner, but it’s one way to deal with the stress that goes with it. Remember that being calm and in the moment can help you deal with the present situation without being impulsive and overreactive.