Improve Anxiety With Mindfulness Using These Simple Steps
When it comes to anxiety, there can be a lot of different triggers.
Everything from health problems to work stress to family drama can make your anxiety worse, but a big underlying reason why we actually feel anxiety, especially when we feel it often, is because we are not living in the present moment (aka being mindful).
You can improve anxiety with mindfulness.
You may be wondering, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness, by definition, is the state of being conscious and aware.
By default, so many of us live our lives on autopilot. We are going from task to task without even really thinking about what we are doing.
A great example of this is when you drive to work. You take the same routes, same turns and you have been doing it for so long that it’s a subconscious act and you don’t even have to think about it. You can arrive at work and not even recall the steps you took to get there.
When we want to achieve mindfulness, we have to be conscious of our surroundings, our actions and our feelings.
A lot of feelings of anxiety come from obsessing over the past or worrying about the future and these two states keep us from being in the present moment. Not only does not being in the present moment rob us of our peace, but it also robs us of our happiness as well.
So, what can you do to add more mindfulness to improve anxiety?
Here’s are 3 simple things you can try:
1. Mindful Walks
Next time you’re on a walk, instead of talking on your phone or scrolling through your Instagram feed become aware of your 5 senses and use them to anchor yourself in the present moment:
Sight – Look around you; look up at the sky and trees and look down at the ground.
What do you see?
Can you notice the gentle movement of the branches on the trees from the wind?
Do you see a bird flying through the sky?
Smell – Try closing your eyes and smelling the air
What can you smell?
Do you smell the blossoming flowers?
Can you smell that after-rainfall fresh air?
Sound – Try closing your eyes and smelling the air
What can you hear?
Can you hear the sounds of the chirping birds?
Do you hear the sounds of the wind moving through the leaves on the trees?
Touch – Walk up to a tree or plant and reach out to touch it
What do you feel?
Can you feel the texture of the bark?
Do you feel the smoothness of a leaf or flower petal?
Taste – This one is a little harder, but try just opening your mouth and breathing in some air through it
What do you taste?
Can you feel the taste of the air, maybe the moisture after a rainfall? Or the salt from the nearby ocean?
Do you feel like you can taste by also smelling how something smells nearby?
By using our 5 senses; Sight, Smell, Sound, Touch and Taste, we are actively practicing being conscious and connecting with our own body, which leads to more mindfulness.
Here are some tips for getting started with mindful walks:
Start small – At first, this will feel unnatural, so the smaller you can start, the better. Aim for just 5 minutes per dayand work your way up to doing more.
Make it easy – If you have a backyard, start there. You can wander around your backyard doing these same practices and still get the same results.
Make it into a routine – Be consistent with this practice. The more you practice it the easier it becomes to tap into the mindful state.
Connect with your breath
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to connect back to your physical body, and a great way to do this is by focusing on your breathing.
It’s so easy for us to not focus on our breathing because it’s so second nature, but there is so much power in doing breathwork. It allows us to bring our body to a peaceful state and really anchor ourselves to the present moment.
Here are some tips for doing breathwork:
Put your hand on your heart – Just the simple act of putting your hand to your heart and feeling your heartbeat helps us connect with our bodies and be in the present moment.
Close your eyes – Closing your eyes will help you shut out any outside distractions and deepen your concentration on your breathing.
Take 3-5 breaths slowly in and out – While you’re breathing, really feel into your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, and your slowing, relaxed heart rate.
3. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is the act of focusing and thinking about the things that are present in our lives that we are thankful for. The very act of gratitude involves putting our focus on the things in our lives that are currently happening, which allows us to focus on the present instead of focusing on the future or the past.
Choose a time that suits you best – Schedule a time in your day to focus on practicing gratitude. Normally right at the beginning of your day once you wake up or right at the end of your day before you go to sleep are the most powerful times.
Close your eyes and put your hand on your heart – Doing this helps anchor us into the present moment and the task at hand.
Recite 3 things you are grateful for – Starting with 3 things is an easy place to start. If you’re having trouble thinking of things, get down to the very basics. Things like a roof over your head, clean water and a loving family are all easy things to be grateful for.
Practicing mindfulness has so many benefits and is especially helpful for those who struggle with anxiety.
The more we can connect with ourselves – our own body and our own mind, the more mindful we become. When we are more mindful, we leave less opportunities for overthinking and worrying resulting in you feeling happier and less anxious.
Remember, true happiness, fulfillment and peace do not come from outside factors, it comes from within, so start practicing mindfulness today and see just how much better and happier you feel.