Have you considered mindfulness to help reduce stress, anxiety and panic?
Negative thoughts and persistent mind chatter can cause havoc in your everyday life. Feelings of worry that come from anxiety and stress make it hard to relax and live in the moment. Living presently can be a challenge in itself. Let alone if you’re trying to concentrate on a work task or get through your to-do list.
A recent study has found that specific forms of mindfulness techniques can be useful in reducing negative thoughts. Thoughts that can frequently occur in depression or anxiety. With the most effective technique being a guided acceptance-based mindfulness meditation.
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
With one of the most well-known types of meditation being mindfulness meditation, it’s easy to get confused between mindfulness and meditation. The two often overlap. However, they can both have a specific purpose. Originally, ancient meditation focused on transcending emotions and spiritual growth to live in a calm state. This has been aligned with today’s modern society and is commonly used as a way to reduce stress and live healthily.
Mindfulness, although similar, is the act of focusing on being completely and utterly in the present. For example, focusing on drinking a hot cup of coffee and absorbing the smell, taste and the way it makes you feel.
Taking time to be present and fully understand how you feel can be beneficial in reducing thoughts of stress, anxiety and panic. In 2013, a study published by the University of Oxford found a 58% reduction in anxiety levels in patients after taking part in the Be Mindful Online course. Of the 273 people who completed the course, a type of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT), 40% saw a reduction in stress after one month.
When you feel overwhelmed and anxious, here are a few simple and easy mindfulness tricks that can help you feel calmer without taking too much time out of your day. Sometimes an hour-long meditation can feel a bit intimidating, so this is a great place to start and feel a bit more relaxed and in the moment.
#1 Connect with the breath
Connecting your body and breath and focusing the mind can help us to be present. In times of heightened anxiety, stress and worry, we can get stuck in the past or on future concerns. By concentrating on the now, it can help your mind break away from those negative thoughts and fixations. You can slow your mind down by connecting your body and breath. One useful breathing technique is alternative nostril breathing. This can calm you down and encourage relaxation. Watch this short video by Yoga With Adriene to learn and find out how to implement it.
We all know being outside in nature is good for you. One study found that students who spend two nights in the forest had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone used as a signifier for stress. The outdoors has been seen to reduce inflammation, fatigue and may even help fight feelings of depression and anxiety. With one study finding decreased levels of anxiety and bad mood after outdoor walks. Remember to keep your phone in your pocket on silent or even at home and soak up the smells and sounds of nature.
Colouring books aren’t just for kids and the adult colouring book market has truly blossomed in recent years. You can find anything from your favourite movie franchise to geometric shapes to keep you entertained. Colouring is a great way to be creative and just take a break from daily life in a healthy and positive manner. If you prefer to doodle or draw, then pick up a blank page and get creative.
There’s never a wrong way to journal. Whether you want to scribble down a random thought or feeling or plan on taking down everything in your life. When you put pen to paper, it might help to unscramble your thoughts and feel more relaxed. You can start anytime with just a blank notebook and a pen. If you’re looking for something that can hold all your thoughts and plans, Passion Planner’s combine a calendar and a gratitude journal to keep you feeling positive and accomplishing goals.
#5 Disconnect from social media
In a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram was rated as the worst social media platform when it comes to mental health, in a teen survey. While it’s great to connect with friends and family through social media, it can contribute to anxiety. You’ll be surprised at the amount of time you save by not checking your social media throughout the day. This will stop you comparing yourself to other people.
#6 Pause and take a moment
Simply pause and take a moment to be present and aware of yourself. If you find this too hard maybe start with just taking a minute to focus on only one thing. Give your complete attention to the task at hand without checking your phone or email. Perhaps even set a time limit for this one thing and see how you progress. Taking a step back in a stressful and anxious situation is key to helping your nervous system calm down.
#7 Have a cup of tea
Whether it’s an English breakfast tea or your favourite matcha tea, boil the kettle and take time to enjoy your drink. Practice concentrating solely on every action and thought of the entire tea-drinking experience. From the colour of tea to the way the leaves settle to the steam rising from the cup. Whether you’re a tea drinker or maybe prefer a smoothie, indulge in the time and be present.
#8 Set an intention for the day
Whether you’re in a meditation class or just starting your day, setting an intention for the day can hold such power. Focus your mind and remind yourself what you want to achieve. Or it can be as simple as just treating your body with kindness. If something is causing you anxiety, set an intention for it and focus the mind. Many spiritual leaders and gurus attribute their fortune, health and love from setting intentions. A great place to start is trying out some mantras and repeating them to yourself several times or even writing them in a journal. Easy mantras, to begin with, are “I am a magnet for miracles” and “I am love”.
Acts of mindfulness and the study of mindfulness meditation can benefit such a wide range of people from schools to the workplace. A number of studies have shown that practising mindfulness meditation can change brain wave activity. According to the Mental Health Foundation, studies have shown increased activity in the area of the brain associated with positive emotion.
Sometimes the thought of a long meditation time can be a bit daunting. If you’re looking to use mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety, these tips and tricks are a great way to start. Do you use any other mindfulness techniques to help you stay present?