Posted on January 28, 2020
Anxiety is just the worst, and sometimes it strikes unexpectedly. What do you do? How do you handle the discomfort? Who can you go to for help? No one likes to fall down a spiral of feeling anxious about feeling anxious.
One of the easiest, least invasive ways to manage anxious thoughts and feelings is practicing mindfulness techniques for anxiety. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment, stopping to take inventory of the things through which we typically rush. It’s about turning down the noise in your mind by coming back to the body. Practicing mindfulness for anxiety is an excellent way to learn how to calm and focus your mind all the time, so when you’re in a moment of panic, you know how to use mindfulness to reduce anxiety. If you want help during this process, it’s always a good idea to talk with a therapist matching service to find the perfect professional that will help guide you through mindful living.
The best thing about guided meditation is that it’s easy to access anywhere, anytime. It’s an easy and effective tool to keep in your back pocket when you need to relax and get centered. You can look into dropping into in-person mindfulness meditation groups, programs, online courses, or even downloading an app like Headspace. Guided meditation is less daunting because you have a voice leading you in breathwork, which is helpful for harnessing mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety, and can also help you reap even more benefits of mindfulness.
Yes, doodle! Doodling is actually a mindful practice. There are numerous reasons why, but the most common theory is the repetition, and rhythmic motions of sketching can activate a relaxation response as a way to counter the body's fight-or-flight reflex. So, if you have an artistic side, set aside a couple of minutes to doodle every day to get into the habit. You’ll get the creative juices flowing and teach your mind to take a break. Coloring books are another great alternative if a blank page feels daunting. Coloring books are a great way to practice mindfulness at work, so long as you don’t devote too much work time to them. Doing this on a regular basis will build a tool you can use as mindfulness for panic attacks at the moment.
Mindfulness exercises can help you get stuff down around the house while also aiding in anxiety and stress reduction? Yes, absolutely. Instead of fearing the pile of mail on the counter, loads of laundry, and the neglected shelves that need dusting, use them as mental breaks. Cleaning and other household tasks are a great practice of mindfulness for anxiety because it’s physical, has a clear timeframe of focus, and has instant gratification. Avoid increasing anxiety by making sure to tackle one task at a time, and allowing yourself to feel accomplished when you’ve completed a chore.
We don’t want to admit it, but our phones are causing anxious feelings. Do you really need to bring your phone with you when you walk into the other room? When you go to the bathroom? When you sit down to eat? All of these small choices to include your phone in every activity contribute to feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Designate times or certain activities where the phone stays in a drawer so that you can focus on being more mindful of the present moment throughout your day. Your phone will still be there when you’re done. And, if you really want to disconnect, log out of social media accounts. While social media has its benefits, it can also contribute to your anxiety and interrupt productivity. We’ve all caught ourselves mindlessly scrolling. So, log out. Being forced to type in a password again will slow you down or stop you altogether. When you actually want to check-in, set a time limit, or an intention. That way, you won’t end up feeling behind on your work or guilty for spending 20 minutes looking through a stranger’s wedding album online.
Using mindfulness for anxiety doesn’t need to be such a big undertaking that it causes even more anxiety. It’s all about taking your time with activities you’re already doing, and every little bit counts, even 10 seconds. Practicing mindfulness regularly can help you calm your mind and move past negative emotions, but if you’re still struggling to keep your anxiety in check, utilize our therapist matching service to get matched with the perfect mental health professional who can help create tools and mechanisms that work for you.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.