Take a second and pause. Do your thoughts keep racing through your mind? Can’t stop thinking about the meeting that you have later today or that phone call that you are dreading? Before you can even fully acknowledge those thoughts, you remember that you were supposed to defrost something to cook for your family but you forgot to do it. This just means that you will have to stop for food, and arrive home past your planned time. You start to feel the tension build in both your back and neck. You try moving your shoulders a bit to help with the stiffness, but nothing works. Imagine if you only had a way to stop and fully focus on one thing at a time, on the present moment without the unlimited number of distractions that can occur. Anxiety reduction can be accomplished with mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
Simply, it’s about purposefully paying attention to daily life and focusing on things we normally rush through. However, it is not that simple. Turning down the thoughts and volume in your mind and coming back to the present moment takes time to learn and master. This takes practice both individually and with your counselor. “Being in the moment” is the most important phrase that one can use when thinking about mindfulness. This helps control anxiety and reduces the constant motion of your thoughts.
How Does Mindfulness Work?
Mindfulness works in numerous ways. As a whole, it helps encourage and accept emotions in order to help them not build up. This can help reduce anxiety. By focusing on the present moment, it helps the mind not put extra focus on the things that are causing worry. Worrying about the future or extra preservation of the past are generally not ideal coping skills when relating to anxiety. By increasing mindfulness of one’s physical and mental state, it allows for healthier reactions to more challenging situations and a reduction in anxiety.
- Set an intention– This can help you focus and remind you why you are focusing on your new skill and ultimately lessen your anxiety.
- Go for a walk– Pay attention to the sounds around you, the feel of the wind against your skin, and the smells around you. Leave your phone in your pocket and just focus on what is around you.
- Look up– Whether you are walking to your car, or sitting in your yard, take a moment and look up. Take a few deep breaths as you look up at the stars. Remind yourself that life is bigger than any single worry that you may have.
- Journal– Try a gratitude journal or simply jot down the three best things that happened today. This will help focus your thoughts and reduce any anxiety that may be brewing from the day’s activities.
- Check out– Being mindful all of the time can be extremely tiring and anxiety-provoking. Take a day, like a Sunday for example, and do NOTHING. Giving your time wander as it pleases will actually help you remain more focused once you are ready to do so.
How to be Mindful At This Moment
Take a second to solely focus on your breath. Move your hand to your chest and feel it rise and fall with each breath taken. If your mind starts to wander, return your attention to your breath. Focus on the here and now and how special it feels to be alive; how good it is to be able to take multiple breaths at this very moment.
While this may not immediately cause a complete release of all the anxiety, it is important to remember how important it can be. Most, if not all of the benefits of mindfulness appear with consistent practice and determination. Like any new skill, practice is important. Practicing this technique over and over again will help maintain improvements that are made and provide insight into other skills that can also help accomplices the same “be in the moment” feel.
Every second of every day can be filled with numerous thoughts that can cause worry and anxiety. Taking 5 minutes a day to practice mindfulness can help reduce the constant fear and anxiety and provide you with some much-needed relief. Checking in on your own mind will help you start to enjoy life for what it is and not let constant worry about the what-ifs take purchase quite so strongly.