Mindfulness: 5 Ways To Reduce Anxiety
A starting point and simple guide to mindfulness techniques.
What is Therapy? 09th Feb, 2021
Mindfulness has been used for centuries as a method to allow people to slow down and enjoy the present moment. In recent years, it has been incorporated into many different types of therapy, as the techniques help you calm down and stay in the moment. You do this by focusing on your breath and environment, rather than on your thoughts and feelings.
This is helpful when you suffer from anxiety as it is all too easy to get caught up in a loop of thought, focusing on past mistakes, worrying about the future, or thinking about multiple different things at the same time. Breaking this cycle of thought gives you the space you need to clear your mind and get on with your day. The methods below are effective for both short term problems, like anxiety attacks, and long-term stress.
Learning mindful breathing techniques can really allow you to stop and be in the moment, focusing on nothing but your breath. A simple one to start with is to sit, or lie down and concentrate on your breathing and nothing else. Your attention will wander within seconds, that is ok, when you notice you have started planning your work day/worrying about something/or any other thought, bring your attention back to your breath. Start by doing this for 1 minute, then build it up. To help you do this, really notice how you breathe.
When you breathe in, focus on how the air moves through your body, coming in through the mouth or nose, through your throat and then into your lungs from the top all the way to the bottom. As you breathe out, follow the reverse as the breath moves from the lowest part of your lungs, up to the top, through your throat and out of your mouth or nose. There are many excellent resources to help with this online, start with
https://www.wellbeing-glasgow.org.uk/audio-resources and go to the section on breathing techniques.
You don’t always know how much stress and anxiety you are holding in your body until you truly relax. Guided progressive muscle relaxation can help you release this tension. It also distracts you from your thoughts as you are focused on the exercises. There are many free resources, a good place to start is https://www.wellbeing-glasgow.org.uk/audio-resources – go to the progressive muscle relaxation section.
Go For A Walk:
Many people spend their working lives indoors, at desks, to counteract this it is very good for you to get outside and see something green. Going for a walk at lunch/in the evening/at the weekend allows you to enjoy nature, focus on the sun, or a breeze, or the view and nothing else. To help you do this in a mindful way find a view you like, stop and focus on what you can see, hear, feel (rain/wind etc), smell and taste. Really enjoy the moment and a little peace in nature. You don’t need to go far, looking at a flower bed can work just as well as a park.
Having a walk at lunchtime also allows you to take a real break from work. This means your mind can actually rest, which does not happen when you eat at your desk. It also ensures you are refreshed and more capable of working in the afternoon.
Focus On One Task At A Time:
It is all too easy to constantly multitask, many people will check emails, while getting notifications from social media and cooking a meal. This splits your focus and can be exhausting, as you try to hold too many different things in your mind, at the same time. Where possible, focus on one task at a time. You may want to start by consciously doing this once a day and let it develop from there, pick a task you do everyday, like making dinner, put your phone down and concentrate on cooking.
It is also important to have time away from your phone, even putting it in a different room for half an hour. Otherwise you may find it is a constant distraction, way to procrastinate and drain on your time. This is not healthy for anyone so set a few boundaries on the time you spend on your phone.
Remember How To Be Playful:
It isn’t just children who need time to play, adults do too. Carve out some time to have fun, playing means doing an activity that has no purpose or plan so no housework or DIY! Go for a walk, play cards, dance in your front room, build a snowman (no actual snow required – try making one out of cardboard boxes), or whatever else you enjoy. Once you let go and just enjoy the moment you might be surprised by how much you relax or feel refreshed.
Mindfulness can help in all areas of your life, when you learn to pause and stay in the present, you can release the tension and stress you are carrying around, even if it is just for a short time. When you learn to do this on a daily basis and it becomes a habit, you may find you are in a better place to deal with any problems that come up.
This is because you are giving your mind time to relax and rest, which allows you to calmly respond, rather than react in a panic, or in anger. This also gives you the mental space to form better relationships, focus on your career, or family and lead a more fulfilling life.