Mindfulness Can Help Your Anxiety
Components of Worrying
Ever notice that your worries are typically concerning something in the future, or something that happened in the past? Feelings of anxiety, worrying, or ruminating are often related to past or future events. This is because when something just happened that made us feel nervous (i.e. going on a first date) we tend to interpret that event based on our feelings (nervousness/anxiety). This leads to us worrying about what we said, how it went, and what our date thought of us. Regarding future worrying, this is often because uncertainty or lack of control can make anyone a bit anxious. In order to deal with the anxiety about the next date, we worry about all the potential outcomes or possibilities. Thoughts about the future and the past are common, and not always anxiety provoking – but can be a huge part of someone’s anxiety.
What is Mindfulness and How can it Help?
Mindfulness is the practice of being present-mind focused. Focusing on the here and now- what is actually happening in the present moment- can often be an effective way to decrease worrying about the past and present that we commonly get stuck in. If we find ourselves ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, we can practice mindfulness to help ground us in the present moment, and subsequently decrease our anxiety.
Research has also proven that individuals, who practice mindfulness daily, even for just a few minutes, are less anxious. A recent study highlighted the link between certain areas in the brain that control worrying are directly impacted by mindfulness or meditation based practices.
There are several ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. One accessible way is to practice noticing and observing your senses. This can be done in your car on your way to work, on your walk to and from classes, or in the shower each morning. The practice is to spend approx. 30-60 seconds observing each sensation (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste) in the present moment. An important aspect of mindfulness practice to consider is the non-judgmental observation that takes place. With each of your mindfulness practices, be sure to be as non-judgmental about what your noticing, thinking or feeling at the time. If you catch yourself judging your experience (i.e. “Am I doing this right?”)- don’t worry! We all do this at times! Just notice where your thoughts went, and gently bring yourself back to the non-judgmental observation of each of your senses (or the present moment).
One major benefit of mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere, anytime. There are also various mindfulness websites and apps for your smart phone, that provide you with guided practices, and reminders for you to practice daily. The Mindfulness Solution and University of California, Los Angeles Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) website have meditations and mindfulness exercises you can download and practice. One phone app known as Headspace has a specific set of sessions that focus primarily on anxiety, and can be accessed from your phone on a daily basis.
If you or someone you know may benefit from mindfulness practice it is worth looking into further, including accessing the resources mentioned in this post. Another important step may be to access a formal assessment and treatment plan that includes mindfulness with a licensed clinician. You may contact us directly for more information regarding assessment and treatments that include mindfulness components.
Deborah Schleicher, Psy.D., Associate | Behavioral Associates Los Angeles
Behavioral Associates Los Angeles is a group of cognitive-behavioral therapists specializing in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. To find out more, contact us by phone at 310-205-0523 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also request an appointment with a Behavioral Associates LA psychologist by submitting a brief patient assessment form on our Website. Our clinical staff will follow up with you within 24 hours of submission.