Stress and anxiety are becoming more and more a part of everyday living, which points to the need for more comprehensive resources in combating these sometimes incapacitating conditions. Luckily, there is a simple, proven solution to help manage stress and anxiety: mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a focus on living in the present. It is the process of reconnecting mind and body to better understand how our actions and thoughts interact with each other. It asks us to live in each moment by noticing sights, sounds, smells, and breath to keep our mind focused on the present. This ability to see each moment clearly allows us to positively transform how we see ourselves and our world.
How mindfulness helps stress and anxiety
Often in moments of stress or strain, our body automatically produces a fight, flight, or freeze response, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety, fear, or worry. Mindfulness helps us learn how to interrupt this processes. When we are focused in each moment, it becomes easier to understand how to exert a more conscious control over our attitudes and actions. This helps us to intentionally move away from negative, pre-programmed reactions to challenging situations. We can increase our capacity to approach difficulties with discipline, with wisdom, and with kindness toward ourselves. The automated patterns of behavior and thought that drive conditions like stress and anxiety can be reprogrammed.
There are three important components that mindfulness emphasizes: community, calm, and a sense of self. First, conditions like stress and anxiety shouldn’t be dealt with on our own, and access to a community is important for the emotional support needed to deal with stress and anxiety. Though these conditions can sometimes fuel a desire to isolate ourselves, having close relationships can provide a strong sense of purpose and a source of reassurance as we learn how to better manage these conditions. Second, on a physiological level, mindfulness can help to lower cortisol, the stress hormone. This process literally calms our minds and bodies by encouraging a natural bodily reaction to reduce cortisol. And lastly, mindfulness helps us get in better touch with our true sense of self, which can all too often get lost in the storm of stress and anxiety. If we can reconnect with our intuition and identity, we are better prepared for navigating challenges.
Write in a journal:
Taking the time to write down thoughts, feelings, and observations is important to recognizing patterns in behaviors and thoughts and better understanding where changes can be made. Writing these things down can also provide the space to process different experiences that the mind sometimes feels too cluttered to unravel.
Find a quiet moment to stop and knowledge everything you’re grateful for. Make a list of the kind people and wonderful opportunities you’ve encountered in your life. Positively focusing your thoughts in such a manner can help reframe your entire mind.
Practice mindful breathing:
Mindful breathing is the act of focusing your attention on the breath. Focusing on each inhale and exhale clears the mind and calms the body. There are dozens of different breathing techniques, and it’s important for each person to explore what works best for them.
Do some yoga:
Yoga encourages movement with the breath, which provides a calming effect for your body and mind. Exercise, in general, is a beneficial practice for reducing stress and anxiety, but yoga combines both a mental focus with physical movement to encourage being present in the moment.
Talk to a therapist:
A therapist can help to provide the tools and knowledge to better manage stress and anxiety. The tips listed above are all important to managing these conditions, but the ultimate way to provide peace to a chaotic mind or stressed body is to speak to a certified specialist who can expertly guide your stress and anxiety and into serenity. Get in touch today for a free chat with any and all of our therapists and schedule your appointment at Primrose!