Anxiety Relief Strategy: Mindfulness

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When people have problems with anxiety, Mindfulness is a skill that is often suggested. Like many Dialectical Behavior Skills (more commonly known as DBT) it sounds like it would be really easy to do. However, it can be challenging to be mindful in a world full of distractions. When practicing Mindfulness, you purposefully bring awareness to a singular detail of the present moment. Using the 5 senses, you can focus on what is real and taking place in the environment around you. 

When can you use it?

  • Anytime! Mindfulness is not a skill that requires tangible items, so it can be completely internal! 
  • You can also use things in the environment around you if you need to.
  • Any experience you have can be enhanced if you do it mindfully. Think about eating chocolate. Most of us just stuff it all in our mouth like someone would take it away if it sat too long. Imagine if we took the time to enjoy the experience and actually let our self really enjoy it.

How can you use it?

  • There are so many different kinds of mindfulness activities that people can participate in. You can do anything mindfully. 
  • You can use it during any stressful situation or non-stressful situation.
  • Let’s go back to eating chocolate. Imagine if you used taste, smell, and touch when you were craving some chocolate. 
  • First, you smell the rich sweetness of the chocolate. Then, you feel the snap of the chocolate as you take a bite. Next, you feel the chocolate start to melt from the heat of your mouth. Which leads us to the silky texture and the creamy sweetness that is chocolate. Mmm…
  • One thing to remember, Mindfulness takes practice. If everyone knew how to do it and it was easy, everyone would just do it. Practicing being mindful for 10 minutes per day can help to increase your ability to be mindful and calm your mind when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Why would you use it?

  • Mindfulness is designed to shift your focus to the present moment and what is happening in “the here and now.” Most people get caught up in worrying about things that either haven’t happened yet, or they are really not likely to happen. If we were to focus on this moment and what we can do right now, we’ll be less likely to be dragged down by the weight of what “could be.”
  • Life can be absolute chaos and sometimes we’re pulled in so many different directions. We have deadlines at work, dinner at home, Johnny has baseball practice and Suzie has dance. It can be overwhelming and easy to get sucked in to focusing on absolutely everything that needs to be done. You’re inner voice is rattling off the list a mile a minute. 

“Okay, so if I leave work 5 minutes early I can swing by the middle school and pick up Johnny and on the way to the ballfield pick up Suzie. I can have them both dropped off by 4:30pm. Go home prep for dinner, get it in the oven, go back out and pick them up, bring them home, feed them, get them showered, and ready for bed. Then I can focus on getting the kitchen cleaned up, dishes done and table wiped down. I have no idea when I’m going to make this time up from work, I don’t have enough time to take off so I’m going to have to work late one day this week… What day?”

By focusing on what needs to be done right now, you will greatly reduce your anxiety level. Plus, if you’re giving your full attention to the task at hand, less mistakes will be made at work, at home, wherever you are.

What is the benefit to Mindfulness?

  • You develop a sense of self-awareness. You are more likely to be aware of where you are mentally and emotionally.
  • Reduce negative behaviors by slowing reaction times and giving yourself an opportunity to let unhealthy urges pass.
  • Experience a level of inner peace and be able to quiet the mind.

Who else can use Mindfulness?

  • According to a 2012 Article written by Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. Called “What are the benefits of mindfulness?” Anyone looking to:
    • Build self-control. 
    • Gain objectivity. 
    • Establish tolerance.
    • Gain enhanced flexibility.
    • Gain equanimity.
    • Improved concentration and mental clarity 
    • Gain emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness. 
    • Learn acceptance and compassion.

Using Mindfulness can help people struggling with anxiety be more self-aware of their state of mind. Spending 10 minutes per day being mindful people can build life-skills that come from and ability to be self-aware. Things such as panic attacks and impulsivity are significantly reduced as we become more aware of the feelings and urges that drive our behaviors.

By: Merri Copeland-Cook

Footnotes: Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2012, July). What are the benefits of mindfulness? Monitor on Psychology43(7).

Our clinicians are here to speak with you and help you with these thoughts.

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Bonne Terre, MO 63628

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