Mindfulness Challenge Week 5: Anxiety and Mindfulness

Overcoming Anxiety with Mindfulness

At its core, anxiety is having fears of the future that haven’t happened yet. Take a moment to think about this: How often have the things you’ve worried about actually come to pass? And then even if something bad has happened, how well did you handle it? Oftentimes, you have overcome them with strength and grace that surprised even yourself.

Unfortunately, we are made to perceive and respond to threats as part of keeping ourselves safe. But anxiety, as a stress-related physical symptom, makes us desperate to get rid of it. This constant state of worry can wear us down, physically and mentally. So countering an internal survival mechanism is often a very difficult task to accomplish.

We also suffer from anxiety when it comes from our desire to always plan. This desire to always know what is coming next can become excessive and counterproductive, taking us away from being able to enjoy the moment. We’re also conditioned to look for the next thing, taking us away from the now. 

This is where mindfulness can be of use. Rewiring our brains to stay and savor the present moment, instead of dwelling on what’s next or what could go wrong, allows us to prioritize enjoying what is happening and not what could happen.

Therefore, practicing mindfulness can help you decrease any unnecessary anxiety and worry. When faced with an event that presents you with anxiety- being late to an event, getting stuck in traffic, an upcoming work issue- keep yourself in the moment, concentrate on what you can do now, and put your mental effort towards what is happening now instead of what hasn’t happened.

Weekly Challenge:

Let it Go: Slowing Down Your Anxiety Challenge

Why It’s Important: No matter if we have it constantly or only from time to time, we all know how debilitating feeling anxious can be. Not only can it wear you down mentally, but it is known to harm your physical health as well. 

Your Challenge: This week we are going to give you options on how to approach the challenge. Below are 10 ways to deal with your anxiety when it comes on and you can choose 1 or all 10 to find one that helps you best. Remember- there is no one right way to overcome anxiety. It’s whatever fits you best at the moment it is happening and in the circumstances you are in.

  1. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is known to mimic the physical effects of anxiety, so being mindful of how much and when you drink caffeine might help you lower your anxiety.
  2. Avoid alcohol. We often associate having a drink with relaxing. However, alcohol can interfere with our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, making us feel worse in the end.
  3. Write it out. Studies show that keeping a journal is actually a healthy way to deal with negative feelings and can help reduce stress.
  4. Talk to someone. Whether it is a professional or just a trusted friend, putting it into words can often help us focus on why we feel the anxiety we do.
  5. Find a mantra. When anxiety is overwhelming you, focusing on a simple few words to refocus your mind can often get you back to the moment when you aren’t able to physically remove yourself from the moment. Something simple like, “This is only temporary,” can help; whatever it is, make it short and simple to repeat.
  6. Walk it off. We know exercise helps with anxiety, as numerous studies have shown. However, even a simple 5-10 minute walk outside can help you refocus. So if you are able to get away, this is a simple way to remove yourself from the situation that is creating the anxiety.
  7. Stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, it can cause symptoms similar to an anxiety attack. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and try taking a few sips when you being to feel anxious to help refocus your thoughts on the present.
  8. Have alone time. Oftentimes our anxiety is triggered by certain individuals. Taking a few minutes to yourself can sometimes be all it takes to slow your breathing and heart rate.
  9. Turn off your phone. A lot of our present-day anxiety comes from the feeling of always being available. Turning off your phone, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, can help when you are feeling overly anxious.
  10. Do something that makes you happy. Sometimes, if we can just remove our minds from the constant worry and instead focus on what we enjoy, concentrating on the present is a lot easier.

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