Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC
Using mindfulness techniques to reduce anxiety has helped many control related symptoms while learning how to be aware of their thoughts and environment. Learning how to use mindfulness techniques to control anxiety helps you know how to challenge and respond to negative thoughts by paying close attention to the present. While mindfulness may not cure anxiety symptoms, it provides significant insight into how you can stay in control of your thoughts and actions. Here are a few things to know about mindfulness and anxiety.
What Is Mindfulness And Its Benefits?
Mindfulness helps you be aware of experiences as they occur in the present. Such exercises related to mindfulness provide benefits for your mental and physical health. While learning self-awareness brings positive changes to different areas of personal health, including behaviors and attitudes. People improve their health and well-being, focusing on the present and appreciating what they have while encouraging deeper relations with others. Studies have shown that people may reduce or relieve chronic pain, stress, and lower blood pressure.
Studies have also shown that people struggling with mental health concerns such as anxiety, substance abuse, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) benefit from mindfulness techniques by learning how to cope and manage related symptoms. Mindfulness may be combined with treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to help people combat negative thought patterns while gaining perspective of their thoughts. The process allows you to face complex and painful emotions instead of avoiding them. People learn to face ideas perceived as self-defeating.
Mindfulness is practiced through different techniques known as a form of meditation. Exercises vary from deep breathing to using your senses and emotions to engage in different personal awareness types. The idea is to practice the techniques to learn your level of awareness about yourself, such as your thoughts, senses, and emotions, and learn how they work together and how they exist separately. For example, people use mindfulness to control addictive behaviors like cravings. Regular practice helps with letting go of unwanted feelings and how to perceive your feelings without judgment.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety makes you feel uneasy and fearful. People have mental and physical effects such as feeling agitated, irritable, rapid heartbeat, and sweating. Some forms of anxiety are normal, and it may boost your energy. When anxiety levels lead to disruptive behaviors, it may affect how you live and take care of yourself. Anxiety becomes overwhelming when people feel fearful most often. A person may have an anxiety disorder that interferes with work, home, and school. Such types of anxiety include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and panic disorder.
People may develop anxiety based on genetics, stress, brain chemistry, and the environment. Some are at a higher risk of developing anxiety if they have a family history, have certain personality traits such as withdrawal or shyness around others, or have a physical condition like thyroid issues. A person with anxiety symptoms may experience hard to control thoughts, rapid heart rate, avoid participating in activities, shortness of breath, intense fear or restlessness, and aches and pains without cause.
Anxiety is treated using different options based on the level of symptoms. Medicines such as antidepressants help people to improve physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, is another option known for treating related symptoms. It helps you learn how to analyze and breakdown unwanted thoughts to face your fears and help improve how you react in certain situations.
How Does Mindfulness Work For Anxiety?
Mindfulness helps control worrying and rumination. People with anxiety may constantly worry about getting things done around the house or remembering to pay bills on time. Anxiety even makes you feel guilty about actions you did or didn’t do in the past. Mindfulness helps you focus on the current moment. Understanding how to focus helps with prioritizing time for the future.
People with anxiety and depression also benefit from mindfulness. Many that experience both may also deal with stress. Mindfulness helps reduce stress by allowing you to focus on what is going on right now. Doing this helps you make better decisions on how to solve problems without overreacting. You are aware of what emotions are behind your choices. People learn the significance of self-awareness and how to use mental and physical elements to react to challenging situations.
People with anxiety learn to accept their emotions. You learn to view things from a different perspective while analyzing your feelings and those of others. When you have an adverse reaction to a situation, you’re able to stop and think about what happened and think about why you responded in that way. You gain new ways to interpret your feelings while alleviating negativity and stress. Along with improved stress levels, people may keep their blood pressure low along with cortisol hormone levels.
Mindfulness helps with body awareness, improving attention span, gaining self-perception, and physical health. As you practice techniques, you’ll gain awareness to help regulate emotions. Mindfulness techniques help you learn how to channel your attention so you can get things done easier. The ability to focus your attention is crucial to staying productive and limiting worries. Mindfulness helps with self-perception by improving self-esteem. You learn to accept yourself the way you are by challenging negative thoughts contributing to low self-esteem.
Understanding how it will work for your anxiety symptoms depends on the level of severity and what is recommended as part of your treatment plan. Learn different ways to practice mindfulness strategies and determine the goals you want to achieve as you learn more about managing your symptoms.
Using Mindfulness To Calm Anxiousness
Learning how mindfulness helps you achieve calmness when feeling anxious is essential to adopting the right techniques to practice. As far as controlling anxious feelings, mindfulness helps you acknowledge painful emotions as they are without encouraging or suppressing them. You learn how to explore what is behind your worrying and stress. You get to spend time productively assessing your concerns to understand what happened and why. You learn how to prevent your worries from consuming you by creating space to help you feel free while understanding related causes behind your fears.
Overall, you learn how to trust yourself and stay within your feelings, even when they hurt, so you can analyze them instead of running away from them. You learn more about your well-being by shifting your emotions so you can learn more about them.
Mindfulness helps you become mindful of the activity you engage in at the moment. To practice mindfulness techniques takes time, but it is essential to allow patience. Mindfulness is like taking time to enjoy a meal. You can rush and eat it quickly and mindlessly, or take your time eating by observing the food, the aroma, the taste, and making it a memorable experience. Practicing mindfulness is the same. Even though it is used to explore painful emotions, you can learn how to take the pain and use it to your advantage instead of letting it hurt you. As you discover ways to navigate through your negative thoughts, you’ll learn ways to enjoy your time in the present that will make a difference in the future.
To get started practicing, learn about different ways it is practiced. People find ways to enjoy mindfulness activities upon learning other options and incorporating them into their lifestyles. Options such as Zen, tai chi, or yoga are great options for experimenting. As you find ways to practice that help you feel comfortable with your feelings, you may feel happier, balanced, and feel less pressure with all of these affecting your anxiety.
An example of how to practice using easy steps includes starting with mindfulness techniques that require little effort and work your way up to in-depth practice techniques. As you practice, remember three primary goals for your session, including bringing attention to the present, focus on your breathing, and pay attention to your body sensations. Each component works together to create a form of calmness. These actions will help you manage anxiety in future situations and be self-aware when reacting and be mindful when responding.
How To Be Mindful In The Present
How do you become mindful at the moment? An easy exercise includes breathing for a few moments and focus on the motion your nose and chest create as you breathe. When your mind goes to another thought, refocus on your breathing. As you inhale and exhale, recognize the present moment. Many say they feel good just to be in the moment because they are alive and free. Doing this helps release anxiety, but if you didn’t notice that yet, it is okay. Remember, it requires practice.
Being mindful at the moment will take time to accomplish. Some notice a change in weeks while others take longer. Mindfulness is a skill to develop. If you are serious about developing this skill, consider things you can do to get the most out of your sessions. Assess your anxiety with a quick online test then set a time to practice mindfulness each day. Learn about different techniques to set goals on what you hope to accomplish with your anxiety symptoms and mindfulness skills. Keep your anxiety symptoms in check by documenting any changes or concerns and present them to your doctor.