Coping With Anxiety Through Mindfulness
While not new, the concept of mindfulness and its benefits has become a common topic of conversation among the general population and the psychological community. While traditionally perceived as something associated with eastern-influenced or holistic lifestyles, today’s modern “mindfulness” philosophy is mainstreamed. It’s even become common for some western educational curriculums and office cultures to embrace the practice. The idea of mindfulness, or living intentionally, has gained a diverse community of supporters, most especially for its potential to help people cope with everyday anxieties and stressors.
While the roots of mindfulness originated 2,500 years ago, its purpose remains true today – ending personal suffering. The current wave of mindfulness practices and therapeutic approaches are credited primarily to a stress-reduction program developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts.
Not to be confused with the practice of meditation, mindfulness is the practice of focusing intently on what you are experiencing in the very moment it is happening. Many who practice mindfulness in their daily lives may describe the mindset as “living in the moment”, without distraction by other surrounding stimuli that may create undue stress or negative distraction. This includes common behaviors such as rehashing the past or anticipating the future, which inherently produces anxiety for many. That’s why learning to be mindful is one of many ways we can learn to cope with anxiety.
Being actively mindful means you notice the world around you and what is happening in the present. This includes accepting your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and movements, and how they in-turn affect others around you. This should be done without judgement of oneself. Mindfulness is something anyone can experience anytime – it does not need to happen in a more structured, formal way as is often the case with a meditation practice.
We’re all living in fast-paced, 24-hour world, and many of us experience our daily lives in a very “mindless” fashion without even fully realizing it. Mindfulness can help lessen our inclination to focus on things we cannot control or change – the past, the future, and the regrets of internal thoughts like, ‘should have’ and what if’.
Research has shown that it’s difficult for a distracted mind to remain in the present moment. In fact, a Harvard University study released in 2010 discovered that people spend nearly 47 percent of their day thinking about something other than what they are actually doing in that moment. Furthermore, this distracted “daydreaming” of sorts generally did not produce happy or positive thoughts. This is yet another convincing case for learning to be mindful!
For those struggling with anxiety, living mindfully can help create “space” between yourself and what you’re experiencing that may be causing your stress. According to Mindful.org, accepting “uncomfortable feelings” and not evaluating or analyzing them can be the key to keeping your anxiety at bay while existing mindfully.
Mindful.org recommends four easy ways to calm anxiety through mindfulness:
- Explore your breath: Is it shallow and choppy, or long and smooth? Calm the rush of panic to your body with this simple breathing practice.
- Get out of your head and into your body. Try these 11 ways to engage your senses
- Explore your attitude. By attending to these ten mindful attitudes for decreasing anxiety, you can support your mindfulness practice and help it flourish.
- Be kind to yourself when you’re feeling too anxious to meditate (it happens). Consider these informal practices instead.
When you’re ready to take charge of your emotional health and decrease the hold anxiety has on your life, consider the range of options and what may work best for you. Consult with your healthcare provider to learn ways to get relief from your anxiety, and how tools like mindfulness and talk therapy can help.
If you do not experience the relief you need from traditional approaches like talk therapy, medications, and mindfulness, consider the benefits of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. This innovative treatment is FDA-approved for anxiety and non-invasive. TMS therapy trials have shown to produce lasting, positive effects on brain function in people who have otherwise experienced a form of treatment-resistant anxiety and depression. When you’re ready to explore a better treatment option for your needs, TMS Therapy Global Network is here to help.