Using Mindfulness for Anxiety: Here’s How
Mindfulness is a terrific tool for anxiety. It’s more than a mere tool, however. Mindfulness is a way of experiencing yourself and the world that allows you to live fully and completely without anxiety getting in your head and in your way.
Mindfulness is many things. Mindfulness is
- being present in the moment, right here and right now;
- focusing on what’s around you to pull your thoughts away from the anxious ones in your head;
- attending to all your senses so you feel and experience things other than the physical symptoms of anxiety;
- letting yourself be as you are without fighting with and getting tangled in anxiety;
- living in the present, ready to live fully without anxiety being at the forefront of your thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness for Anxiety: Our Thoughts and Emotions
Racing thoughts are a component of anxiety. Our thoughts are full of worries, fears, doubts, regrets over perceived past mistakes, and imagined future horrendous outcomes. Thoughts and emotions are connected, so our anxious thoughts create anxious, roiling emotions, which in turn create more anxious thoughts, and we are caught in a jagged trap.
When you engage in mindfulness for anxiety, you begin to remove yourself from anxiety’s trap. With mindfulness, you are replacing your worries about the past and fears about the future with neutral, non-judgmental observations about the present. This calms both thoughts and emotions.
When you use mindfulness to extricate yourself from anxiety’s trap, you allow yourself to let go of anxiety. You stop struggling and just accept things for what they are. Acceptance isn’t giving in to anxiety; it’s stepping away from the negative thoughts and emotions so you can observe them from a distance.
Rather than an escape from anxiety and problems, mindfulness lets you step away from them so you can live fully in the present moment. With mindfulness, you live in the present moment without judging anything. When your thoughts are centered on what is happening now, there is less space for anxious thoughts and emotions.
Knowing that mindfulness reduces anxiety is one thing. Actually practicing it is another thing altogether, for it’s not always easy and natural. The following tips show you how to use mindfulness for anxiety.
How to Practice Mindfulness for Anxiety
Mindfulness is a state of being. Like anything, it takes patience to achieve it. Mindfulness in its most basic form is simply paying attention to what is happening around you instead of getting caught in your anxiety. Here are some ways to pull your attention away from the anxiety within and onto the world around you.
- Use your vision and notice colors, sizes, movement, and more.
- Listen. What sounds do you hear? Running water? The click of dog feet on the floor? Tune in completely.
- Touch stuff. Feel different textures, such as the smooth leaf of a houseplant or the rough edges of a rock.
- Use your sense of smell. Essential oil burners release scents that are calming, energizing and more. Light a candle. Step outside and smell the grass.
- Taste is another good way to experience the present. Drink tea, eat a piece of chocolate, or anything you can concentrate on and savor.
- Engage in deep breathing techniques and be mindful of the sound of the air and the feel of your diaphragm expanding and contracting.
- Take a mindful walk. Walk at any speed that is comfortable to you and notice what’s around you, again using your senses.
- Eat mindfully. Instead of gulping down a meal or snack while your mind races with anxiety, pull your thoughts gently to the experience of eating.
These are just a few examples of how to use mindfulness for anxiety. There are no hard and fast rules. The main idea is to pay attention to your present moment instead of being caught in the trap of anxious thoughts and feelings.
While there are truly no rules, there is something important to remember. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to be mindful without judging. When your anxious thoughts return to the forefront of your mind and attention, accept that this is normal. Acknowledge them and return to your senses. The very process of doing this is what trains your brain and tames anxiety.
Using mindfulness for anxiety is a process that can be rewarding. Mindfulness gives you space from anxiety, and it allows you to replace worries and fears with things in the present moment that are much more pleasant.
Peterson, T. (2017, April 18). Using Mindfulness for Anxiety: Here’s How, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/anxiety/using-mindfulness-for-anxiety-here-s-how