Mindfulness for anxiety and stress

Written by: Emma Hudson | Last updated / reviewed: 17 Feb 2021

Reviewed by: Paul Baker

Mindfulness for anxiety and stress

 

We need to feel stress and anxiety to help us deal with threats of imminent or sudden danger. However – if the threat is created in our heads with thoughts such as: I am not good enough… I cannot do this…. How dare they speak to me like that? I cannot cope… Then we can become sick… extremely sick with anxiety and stress. Mindfulness can help with this.

How can mindfulness help with stress and anxiety?

  • Feeling stressed?

    Stop what you are doing. For three breaths keep your attention focused on your breath, it can be helpful to say ‘I am breathing in; I am breathing out’ – do this three times.

  • Feeling anxious?

    Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Which hand is rising? If the top hand is rising, increase your breath down into the belly.

  • Creating space

    Mindfulness can help by creating a space of calm where we can consider how to respond to thoughts.

  • Seeing clearly

    Mindfulness can help by seeing clearly what is happening.

  • Turn attention towards the symptoms

    Mindfulness can help by turning our attention towards the symptoms of anxiety, subsequently creating the possibility of change, and preventing being anxious about being anxious.

  • Is it rational?

    Mindfulness can help by determining if our anxiety is rational.

  • Techniques to calm the symptoms

    Mindfulness can help by practicing breathing techniques to help calm the symptoms of stress and anxiety so preventing overreacting and panic attacks.

  • Bring attention to the stressors

    Mindfulness can help by bringing attention to the stressors in our lives – with the possibility of change.

  • See clearly habitual behaviours

    Mindfulness can help to see clearly habitual behaviours that were never helpful in times of stress and anxiety.

  • Understand unhealthy coping mechanisms

    Mindfulness can help by bringing our attention to unhealthy coping mechanisms we may have used over time, such as overeating, over drinking, drug use, gambling, smoking, shopping, sex, and over working. All of which created an illusion of relief..

  • Change unhealthy coping mechanisms

    Mindfulness awareness offers the opportunity to change our unhealthy coping mechanisms, possibly quitting them all together.

  • Understand the brain

    Mindfulness can help understand which part of the brain is triggered by anxiety and why– and consequently regulate the symptoms produced.

  • Strengthen the brain

    Mindfulness can help by strengthening the part of the brain used for concentration and decision making – creating new neural pathways so we respond rather than react, feeling more in control of life and happier.

There is neuroscience research to show how effective mindfulness can be to help reduce people’s anxiety and stress. The results show people with a regular mindfulness practice present fewer symptoms of anxiety. Journal papers will be discussed in the 8-week mindfulness course.

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