Anxiety!! We all experience it at some point. Some people more than others and some times more than others. It is a part of life, and as human beings, we probably would not get much done if it didn’t exist at all. Anxiety on this level is like stress. A little stress (anxiety) can help us stay alert and on our toes when we need to meet a deadline, focus on a task, or are truly threatened by an event or experience.
The problem comes when we experience too much. I use the word experience because that is exactly what it is. Our experience is that we do not accept the reality of the current situation, whatever that might be. This, in turn, causes stress and anxiety. We are trying to deny or fight against the reality that our car has broken down and we will need to pay money we think we don’t have, and, on top of that, be late to wherever we are headed. Constantly fighting against the reality of the present takes energy and causes continual stress and anxiety. This is something you don’t want!!
This is also where mindfulness comes in. The key is to pay attention to the now even though that is exactly what you are inclined to resist in the moment. It is much easier to think about the future or the past than about the present moment. However, refocusing can lower blood pressure, balance out your breathing physically, and allow you to think more clearly and experience more peace and calm. A good way to do this is to focus on your breathing, focus on your stomach moving out with the in-breath and in with the out-breath. When your mind wanders (and it will!!), don’t judge yourself. Simply note it and go back to your stomach. You will see that the benefits are well worth the practice, and that you cannot be thinking of the past and future when you are focused on your breath.
It is important to note here that while mindfulness is proven to be helpful with anxiety and stress, even of the chronic variety, there do exist more serious forms of anxiety that can be debilitating. They range from generalized anxiety to phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic, and post-traumatic stress disorder to name a few. If you think you may have or experience one of these, seek professional help.An indication that you need professional help is when you start to feel like your work, personal relationships, and general level of satisfaction with life are affected by symptoms of anxiety. While most of the professional community uses mindfulness to assist in the treatment of these disorders, there are other techniques that are also quite effective in treating anxiety disorders such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure response prevention, and other therapies related to the resolution of past trauma.
Get help sooner rather than waiting as you will be much more likely to feel better faster. If you are not certain about what you might have or need, you can always do a free screening or short assessment with a therapist or online. Click here to see about an assessment or therapy at InPsych Center.