Mindfulness: A Powerful Tool in Reducing Anxiety

Often times, we have days when it feels like we are continually acting or reacting to an endless number of situations and stimuli. It can be easy to get swept away by the chaos and put our brains into overdrive by fixating on the next thing that needs to be done or ruminating on the last thing that happened. When these obsessive thoughts take over, we lose touch with our mind and often feel overwhelmed and anxious. The good news is that we can get ourselves “unstuck” from this cycle by pausing to practice mindfulness.

Put simply, mindfulness is the conscious and deliberate effort to maintain awareness of one’s immediate environment. Instead of rehashing past events or worrying about the future, mindfulness means that you are only focusing on what is happening in the moment. By being mindful, we become more attended to our thoughts, sensations and emotions. And while it may feel more effective to act quickly and get things done as fast as possible, the truth is that we are most powerful and effective when we are in control of our intentions.

Here are some simple tips on how to practice mindfulness:

  • The next time you feel anxious or frustrated, use that as your cue to take a “time out” by focusing on your immediate environment. Remember that it’s not about “quieting” your thoughts, but rather as a way to bring yourself back to the present moment. 

 

  • Use your senses to become more attended to your surroundings. Identify specific things you can hear, see, smell and feel. When your mind begins to wander back to ruminating thoughts, use this exercise to bring yourself back to the present. 

 

  • Do not worry if you have trouble focusing on the present moment—that will just cause more stress. Accept that your mind is wandering and take deep breaths to direct your attention back to your physical self. 

 

Just like a muscle, mindfulness will become stronger with exercise. Start by setting aside a few minutes a day to practice appreciating the present moment and it will soon become a well-develop skill you can utilize to decrease anxiety in minutes.

– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.