Anxiety is unfortunately a common occurrence for many people. For some, it can come as a condition such as generalized anxiety disorder, whereas others may experience anxiety as a symptom of another condition or life event. Stress, social situations and other life pressures can cause anxiety, and no matter where your anxiety may stem from, it’s important to remember that your feelings are valid, it isn’t your fault but there are productive ways to manage your anxiety to help you lead an easier, more peaceful life.
Mindfulness is a great tool in managing anxiety. Mindfulness is defined as the practice of remaining present in the sensations, tasks and situations all around you. This can help your mind slow down and take a step back from the stress and anxiety. There are so many ways to use mindfulness to manage anxiety, and it’s all about finding solutions that work for you and your lifestyle. Different tools will work for different people — and while mindfulness won’t fix it all, it can help you on your way.
1. Focus on the Breath
Breathing exercises can give you something tangible and physical to focus on within your own body, which can help to alleviate anxiety. Deep breathing can slow down the pace of your throughs, movements and heart rate so you can feel a bit more in tune with your body and mind. You can simply start by focusing on each breath one by one and slowing your breathing down, or you can use breathing exercises specifically designed to help you calm down and focus in.
Elongating your exhale by inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of six or eight is a great way to experience some calm. Another great technique is alternate nostril breathing, which is a practice often used in yoga, which can help you slow your breath naturally and find a bit more relaxation.
2. Get Moving
While yoga is a great form of mindful exercise because it engages the body and the breath, you can find presence and relief in nearly any workout or physical activity you love. Sometimes, anxiety comes along with physical symptoms such as chest pains, dizziness, muscle tension and nausea. While everyone has their own way of dealing with those things, it can sometimes be satisfying to sweat it out by focusing on all the sensations of powering through a workout you love.
You can even get creative with your activities by getting out in nature for a stretching session or a delightful jog. Focus on the scenery around you, your breathing and the feelings within your own body.
3. Use Grounding Techniques
If mindfulness is simply a tool you’re looking to use to get in touch with your surroundings and clear up some space in your head, why not cut right to the chase? Grounding techniques help you truly root into the sensations all around you so you can connect to the physical world. One of the most effective and widely practiced grounding techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. This technique involves a few simple steps. All you have to do is notice:
- Five things you can see around you
- Four things you can feel
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can you can smell
- One thing you can taste
Focusing on these things in your surroundings can do wonders to center you when you’re feeling anxious or tense.
If you’re looking for something to sit and relax, a meditation practice can be a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life in an intentional way. Often, sitting down and meditating can calm you and help manage your anxiety in the moment and long term by giving you a place to let your mind rest and take a break from the world. If you tend to have trouble sitting still and focusing, you can employ breathing techniques or try meditation apps for guided tracks.
Many meditation apps and online systems offer guided audio meditations or tips for people with anxiety, so you can find exactly what you need.
Journaling is a great way to remain mindful of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and events of your daily life. It can help you pause to process and slow down — getting everything out on the page so you can find a bit of peace. You can journal about some of your anxious thoughts to release them, or you can focus on other areas of life you’d like to reflect on.
It’s important to be open and honest in your journaling practice so you can truly engage. You don’t have to write a lot or spend hours crafting something perfect. Even one sentence will do — this is something to do just for you.
Find Some Relaxation
While mindfulness won’t make anxiety disappear for good, it can calm the mind, center you in your surroundings and help you manage those anxious feelings so you can process them with a bit more ease.
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, passionate freelance writer, and the blogger behind Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.
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