Anxious? How mindfulness helps.
You're feeling anxious.
Most people feel anxious from time to time. For others, it is a constant companion. Overwhelming feelings of dread, fear and panic. Racing thoughts of all the things that are going wrong or could possibly go wrong. Fears of a hundred different possible situations you might find yourself in. These anxious feelings and thoughts take over and get in the way of you living your life.
What mindfulness can do.
A simple definition of mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is going on in the present moment and doing so in a nonjudgmental manner. There are lots of books, blog posts, videos, and classes on mindfulness and I think that is a good thing. Simple relaxation breathing exercises, centering practices, and walking meditation all cultivate a sense of mindfulness.
There are many paths to implementing some mindfulness in your life. But how, exactly, do these help you?
Make physiological change happen.
Many mindfulness practices extend and elongate your breathing and promote concentration and focus. They also gently tell your nervous system that it is OK to slow down and calm down. This in turn can ease the intensity of anxious feelings and quiet anxious thoughts.
One of the main goals of therapy is to bring internal experiences into consciousness. Creating a space to notice difficult feelings, sad memories, scary thoughts, and unhealthy urges means that you then have space to choose how to react to these experiences. If you can create a space and notice an anxious thought, you can then choose a new behavior such as letting it just be a thought and not reacting to it, or replacing it with a positive thought.
There are lots of ways to get started and many tools out there. Pick a simple practice, give it a try and see if you notice a difference in the intensity of your anxiety or how you respond to it. Do you notice yourself relaxing even a little? Do you sense some tiny bit of space between you and what's going on?
I'm a big believer in having lots of tools, so keep trying new things. It's called a mindfulness practice for a reason - practicing means more benefits and as you practice you will find tools that really work for you.