Wherever you are, be all there – Jim Elliot
It really is a busy world we live in. Not enough hours in the day, days in the week, constantly planning, rehearsing and playing detective in our minds. Anxiety thrives on too much future and not enough present and is often caused by stress, fear and excessive worry.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness of being in the present moment by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them. This practice is a great way to silence the mind and help you focus during times of stress and anxiety.
Due to most of our busy lifestyles our minds are always thinking about past events and what to do next, we often perform numerous tasks while in auto pilot and then have no recollection of the steps we took to get from A to B. Anxiety loves routine and a good comfort zone, it leads you to believe that by creating it you will stay safe and out of harm’s way. Having a sense of curiosity and openness is an important tool to practice and a great way to approach your anxiety, it is not only essential in managing the stress and anxiety but it allows you to use a different approach and develop new tools.
Mindfulness is a gentle approach that will deliver exactly that by encouraging you to step out of an anxious mindset and step into a world of balance, focus and calm.
How to Practice Mindfulness
…withdraw your attention from the past and future and place your focus on the now.
Mindfulness can be practiced as a specific meditation or it can be used in a more relaxed way during your everyday tasks and chores. The aim is to withdraw your attention from the past and future and place your focus on the now, the present moment.
A great way to practice is by incorporating your senses when performing a task, it could be as simple as brushing your teeth, going for a walk or eating breakfast. We have all practiced mindfulness at some time or another without even realising, the next time you are out for a walk take notice of the beautiful trees and flowers, the sounds of the birds chirping, the busy roads, the feel of the cool air on your face and the smell of the fresh flowers as you pass by.
If any thoughts or worries pop up during your practice just allow them to come and go by acknowledging them without any judgement.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
There are numerous benefits for practicing mindfulness! Not only does it encourage you to be fully engaged in activities and your everyday tasks, it also allows you to practice focus and acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and surroundings. Above all, Mindfulness can also:
- Help you Manage your Anxiety
- Promotes Relaxation
- Improves Mood
- Reduces Stress
- Helps you Focus
- Improves your emotional wellbeing
- Improve your sleep
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves your psychological wellbeing
Participating in an experience without any judgement is one of the most challenging parts of mindfulness. We are so used to evaluating and judging everything we do (mostly without even realising) that we at times find it challenging to do otherwise. It just takes a little bit of time and practice to master.
I think an important point to mention is that if find your mind wondering that its OK, just bring your awareness back to the now and keep going, don’t be too hard on yourself or be tempted to give up its perfectly normal. The beauty of this practice is that it really teaches us to focus and take notice of one thing at a time, hence, why it becomes so beneficial during times of anxiety.
Mindfulness Exercise: What am I experiencing right now?
When introducing mindfulness practice to my clients I often tell them one of the best ways to practice and develop this skill is when your outdoors. Whether it is in the park, while you take the dog for a walk or at the beach. If you are by the ocean for example ask yourself ‘What am I experiencing right now?’
Take not of the cool air, the grainy sand, the sound of the waves, birds chirping, the beautiful blue skies, amazing crystal oceans and the saltiness in the air. Allow yourself to be there and observe the experience with full awareness without trying to change them. Now bring your awareness to your breathe and breathing in to the count of 3 taking notice of your abdomen filling up with air, out to the count of 3 emptying out all the air. (you can even introduce a positive mantra to the breathing exercise such as ‘Inhale Love’ and ‘Exhale Gratitude’)
I think what I love about this practice is that it is so simple and flexible and can be very accommodating to your needs and lifestyle. There is no set way to practice mindfulness, adjust the practice to YOU in order to get maximum results for you!
TIPPick a simple task you perform each day and use that as your mindfulness practice. - Amanda Cavallaro
Amanda Cavallaro is The Anxiety Wellness Queen. As an Anxiety Coach, she is passionate about mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding it. With a background including psychology and counselling, she aims to help spread an understanding towards mental health and offer advice for people living with anxiety. You can follow Amanda on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.