Have you ever heard of something called mindfulness? As part of my continued goal to overcome anxiety and the issues I experience, I was recommended this by my doctor. Now I’m recommending it to you!
I know how anxiety can affect your thoughts. If fact I’d say that for me, the main issue I have to deal with is my brain! I can over think things, over-process and analyse every situation until it becomes impossible to deal with.
The is where mindfulness comes in. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t but you’re here for a reason so let me tell you what it is:
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali-term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions.
Who created it?
Without sounding like a university paper, it was created by Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. It’s a psychological technique to help deal with depression and anxiety. It’s actually been around for a number of years and isn’t a new thing.
As you can see from the meaning of mindfulness, it’s all about changing your thoughts processes. It’s another form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) but is something you can do anywhere, anytime. You don’t need a therapist to help you with this either.
What actually is it?
It’s almost like a state of being. I don’t want to sound like a preacher here because that’s not what I’m about. It’s something you can do at the bus stop. On your lunch break. Before bed or when waking up.
By the way, just so you know I’m not going to cover this in minute detail as I’d just end up boring you. But this is how you can practice it in simple terms. This is my own technique.
You only need about 10 minutes really. Longer is always going to be better but I know we lead busy lives. Just give yourself a short period where you have nothing to do to get the best out of it,
Find somewhere quiet. If you’re at the bus stop, just make sure you have nothing to distract you. When you have this spot, concentrate on your breathing. Appreciate how your chest rises and falls as you breath in and out. If you can hear yourself breathing, listen to it.
Once you have done this and have cleared your head of any thought, now think about what is around you. If you’re outside you have traffic. Trees and birds. Other people. Focus on one subject and just think about this one thing.
If you’re at home, look at the pictures on the wall. Your bookshelf. How your rug feels beneath your feet. This is what mindfulness is. It’s about appreciating your surroundings and allowing you brain to focus.
How many times can you think of where you’ve had to juggle a number of things at work or at home? Mindfulness is bringing yourself back into the present. They say it’s almost as good as going through CBT.
How can I use mindfulness as a way of dealing with my anxiety?
Mindfulness is great for bringing you back into the present. Anxiety has a way of keeping us focused in the past or worrying about the future. We tend to forget to appreciate what is around us. But please don’t beat yourself up about it. In our modern-day and age this is natural. You may know that mental illness is on the rise.
So by using this simple and very easy technique, you are looking around you. Smelling, seeing and breathing what you have in the moment. I promise you it can really heal ease any anxious feelings.
It might be something to use when you can feel a panic/anxiety attack coming on. I know it’s hard to focus on anything else other than what it going on in your body and brain. But you have to force yourself to focus. As hard as it might be.
Use the above technique and practice it over and over again.
You can practice it as much or as little as you want but I’d suggest making a set time per day to do it. The more you do it, the easier it will become and, the more you’ll make time for it.
How about before you’re about to go to bed? This might be useful if you struggle to get to sleep sometimes. Or maybe in the morning after you’ve woken up? If you know you have a busy day ahead of you and need to clear your head, this would be ideal.
Ultimately this is really up to you. You decide – I can’t tell you what to do. Only you can make that decision!
Anything negative to say?
I’d say that it might not work for you. When I struggled during university, this was the last thing that would have helped. The mindfulness technique doesn’t work for everyone so I can’t promise you this will resolve all of your issues.
In addition, some of us do need medication to help deal with our symptoms. Anxiety and depression come with physical symptoms which just cannot be solved with mindfulness.
I read recently on The Guardian website that mindfulness has led to occurrences of people suffering from ‘de-personalisation’. This means the feeling of watching yourself in a film, like you aren’t in your own body. This is rare though, and only happens in extreme circumstances. It also went on to explain that due to mindfulness creating a heightened sense of feeling that it can make anxiety worse. You can read more here.
Chose what to make of this but I felt it necessary to advise that there have been some concerns. Personally, it’s been wonder for me and maybe it will be for you!
Any resources you can share with me?
Here are some useful links to read more about mindfulness. I’ve also included a few of my own posts at the bottom to read more of my stuff!
Be Mindful – learn more about how you can practice it online and find teachers.
NHS page on Mindfulness – some really useful more detailed information on the technique.
Oxford Mindfulness Centre – contains a video to watch and more information.
Living well – some useful techniques and exercises to try out
Black dog Institute – a document containing useful exercises to try out at different points of the day
Free Mindfulness – a free resources page containing downloadable clips to listen to
Mayo Clinic – free exercises and more info.
Some of mine:
An ultimate resource on writing for your anxiety – tips and tricks plus free resources to help you write to ease anxiety.
How not to fail because you lack inner confidence – if you find you struggle with confidence, have a read of this
The reasons why anxiety makes you awesome – that pep talk you so badly needed
A how to guide on positive reinforcement – another pep talk for you when you need that positivity.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Please do let me know whether you use it! How does it help you?!