With more and more people struggling with anxiety these days, it’s important to find the best and easiest ways to reduce your symptoms. The quicker you can control them and monitor the situation, the less damage it can create, reducing inflammation and decreasing the risk of developing a disease.
Taking a mindful approach through the best holistic and spiritual practices can be one of the best ways to do just that, all while learning how to be present in every moment, savoring the positive, being grateful for all the good in your life, and focusing on optimizing your overall health and wellbeing.
The Anxiety Pandemic
With the world focusing on the viral pandemic, it seems we’ve almost forgotten we’re dealing with another one, even more prevalent in our population. Anxiety disorders showcase as chronic episodes of worry and fear that cripple our way of functioning, making it hard to focus on tasks at hand, disrupting our sleep and recovery, impairing our immune function, causing discomfort in our digestive system, and draining our energy levels.
Anxiety symptoms take control of the person experiencing it and make it hard for them to relax, breathe deeper, and let go of the fight-or-flight state. Instead, they cause restlessness, inability to concentrate, headaches and other pains, fatigue and tiredness, insomnia, and more.
When left undealt with, these symptoms can progress into more severe stages, lowering your body’s ability to fight off infections and disease, causing hormonal disbalance, and making it impossible for you to perform your daily tasks.
Current anxiety treatments include psychotherapy and medication, which are sometimes used in sync to boost their benefits. When it comes to psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT seems to be the most common and effective form. It’s a short-term treatment that helps you learn and implement specific skills in order to improve your anxiety symptoms and slowly return to all the activities you’ve avoided or abstained from because of anxiety.
CBT sometimes also includes exposure therapy, which includes encountering a situation or object that triggers your anxiety, helping you develop ways to manage the potential outcome.
In the case of medications, there are several most common types that yield the best results. Still, by themselves, they won’t do much. They’re just quick fixes to help you relax at your most anxious moments. Therefore, they’re always best combined with psychotherapy, which will help you learn to deal with anxiety symptoms and reduce their intensity over time.
Mindfulness and Anxiety
Being mindful means you’re aware of the present moment and are able to completely immerse yourself in it. Anxiety stems from worry about future situations and happenings you cannot or don’t know how to control, so when you bring the focus on the present moment and concentrate on what’s within your grasp, you take back some of that control, making your mind and body relax and realize you’re not so helpless after all.
If ignored, anxiety can severely impact your mental health and cause trauma, phobias, and worse. Implementing mindfulness practices is easier than you think, and it doesn’t take medication or trips to the psychotherapist to make them work.
One of the best mindfulness practices you can use on the daily basis to approach your anxiety disorder is mindfulness meditation. There are many forms of meditation that can help you practice mindfulness and some of the most common include:
- Breathing meditation – focusing on your breath is the ultimate form of mindfulness practice. It’s the only thing we do all the time and it’s the easiest way to become aware of the present moment. You can simply tune into your inhales and exhales, focusing on deepening them and imagining them calming you down. You can also count to a specific number and elongate your inhales and exhales to match, subconsciously relaxing your body and unclenching your jaw. And lastly, you can feel your breath reach your stomach on your inhale and completely empty it out on your exhale, avoiding shallow breathing patterns and activation of the nerves.
- Color meditation – focusing on a specific color can help you calm your anxious mind, whether it’s in your field of vision or something you imagine with your eyes closed. Choose a color that helps you feel relaxed and focus on breathing while you think about it. The more you stay in your color, the more you’ll relax, feeling anxiety symptoms begin to dissipate.
- Body meditation – Being mindful of your body helps release tension from those areas that tend to hold on to stress. Start by purposely relaxing your toes and travel upward all the way to the crown of your head, specifically focusing on your fists, shoulders, jaw, and the space in between your eyebrows. When you become mindful of how your body feels, you’ll be able to notice tension patterns when you’re feeling anxious. So, instead of focusing on dealing with your anxiety, you can turn it around by focusing on your body, and consequently, ease your mind.
Mindfulness mediation is a practice that takes you into a purposeful setting, preparing you to deal with symptoms of anxiety and psychological stress encompassing it. Mindfulness techniques that focus on action take that approach into everyday situations, making you live in the present moment no matter where you find yourself. Some of the best mindful actions include:
- Mindful morning routine – avoid grabbing your phone first thing when you open your eyes and be aware of your body waking up. Stretch out your arms over your head, take a few deep inhales and exhales, pay attention to the feeling of your feet touching the floor, open up your blinds and notice what’s happening outside your window. Then take that mindfulness practice into your kitchen and smell the coffee as it’s brewing, taste each bite of your breakfast, feel the water hydrating you with each sip, and listen to the sounds of your home as the world is waking up.
- Mindful during the commute – commute and traffic can be very anxious environments, having you worry whether or not you’ll be late for work or instilling fear around any potential accidents. Staying mindful during your drive can help you relax while also staying more alert and actually preventing accidents and improving your reaction reflexes.
- Mindful bedtime routine – instead of watching the news or going to bed with your brain already thinking of everything you have to do tomorrow, implement a relaxing, mindful bedtime routine that helps you focus on unwinding and resting. Sleep is crucial for recovery and anxiety can severely impair its quality. Focus on mindful self-care routines such as journaling, gratitude lists, bathtub soaks, or reading a book, and improve your sleep so you can recharge and be able to deal with all of your daily tasks.
Anxiety disorders are vast and variable, dependent on the person who experiences them and the situations that trigger their symptoms, all influencing their intensity and effect. Mindfulness-based stress reduction practices such as mindfulness meditation or daily actions can help you focus on the present moment and deal with one thing at a time, literally placing one foot in front of the other.
Mental health is an important topic that’s growing in popularity, helping us find new ways to deal with each disorder, issue, and illness. And with depression and anxiety being at the forefront of today’s struggles, taking mindfulness practices and implementing them in our daily lives may be the easiest and most effective thing we can do for our health and longevity.