In today’s culture, the term ‘mindfulness’ is one of the latest buzzwords. In our fast-paced society, being constantly busy is often seen and portrayed as something to be proud of. Multi-tasking has become increasingly more widespread and growing technology has made it easier than ever to be constantly plugged into social media and checking our emails. However, anxiety is also a growing issue in today’s society, with more of us suffering from mental health struggles and problems than ever before.
Anxiety can be mentally exhausting and it has huge impacts on our physical and mental wellbeing. Anxiety generally is a feeling of unease, fear or worry which, when persistent, can impact on your daily life. With this increase in anxiety and mental health problems, people are turning to time-tested methods and practices in order to relax and become more present.
There is a lot of research out there which shows that mindfulness practices can improve our mental health. Mindfulness teaches our bodies how to respond to stress with an increased awareness of what is happening around us in that present moment, rather than by acting instinctively. If you want to try tackling your anxiety with mindfulness, then here are 5 ways you can do so.
Take a pause during the day
Often, we get so caught up with thinking about the past or focusing on the future that we don’t take a moment to notice the thoughts we are having in the present moment. Try not to attach “bad” or “good” labels to your thoughts, as this can quickly become all-consuming as you try to battle your own mind.
By taking a moment out of your day to observe your thoughts, this can help you to feel much more grounded and present throughout the day. Often, anxiety is a result of worrying about upcoming events or changes, so by bringing yourself back into the present moment, you can decrease your overall feelings of anxiety.
Log out of social media
Whilst social media has its uses, it can also have huge effects on your anxiety and drain your productivity levels. Once you begin to notice, you will be amazed at how frequently you check your social media channels without even thinking about it. First things first, you should log out of all your social media channels. If you have to put a password in every time you go to access a site, this will slow you down or stop you visiting altogether.
Those times you do actually want to check in on social media, set a time limit. This way, you won’t find yourself scrolling for hours on end or fall behind on your work. You might also consider deleting an account or two whilst it is on your mind, as a recent study found that using more than one social media platform is associated with anxiety in young adults.
Practice simple breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are simple but are also extremely helpful and powerful. They are always accessible and can be done at any time, especially when stress or anxiety strike. If you are in the midst of a panic attack or anxiety onset, simply just noticing your breathing can be a quick and easy way to get your mind to refocus. Count your breaths and try to exhale for a few seconds longer.
Exhaling sends signals to the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates your resting and relaxation response. You can also place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and, as you breathe in, focus on your stomach as it inflates like a balloon, then feel it empty as you exhale.
Focus on one thing at a time
When we’re busy and our to-do list seems neverending, this can quickly result in panic and a ball of anxiety forming in your stomach. Whilst your to-do list may seem overwhelming, you can use it for mindfulness, if you do it right.
Set a timer for five minutes and give one of the tasks on your list your full and undivided attention – no checking your phone, no online browsing and no multitasking. Let that one task take centre stage and see how much you can get done.
Brew on it
Making a cup of tea is a cherished practice in many cultures all over the world and is a great way to grab five minutes to settle your mind. By truly settling into the practice and focusing on each step, you completely clear your mind of any overwhelming thoughts.
How does the tea smell when you are putting it into a mug? What does it look like when you first add water to it? Focus on the steam rising as it brews feel the heat of the cup on your hand. By focusing on your senses, you are bringing your mind back into the present. If you have time, sip your tea without any other distractions and, if you don’t like tea, you can easily do this with freshly pressed coffee.
Every bit of mindfulness helps, but what matters most is that you are consistent with your mindfulness practice. By practising mindfulness regularly, you can calm your mind easier and move on from any negative emotions. As well as taking five minutes a day to focus on your mindfulness, having good overall health is a must too. Eat a balanced diet, take multivitamins and probiotic supplements and exercise regularly, as this will have a huge impact on the way you feel too.