mindfulness for anxiety feels like an oxymoron
Wouldn’t you love to have a big smile on your face like the frog in the image? I know I would but for a long time I didn’t know how to smile, be calm and relaxed.
Being in anxiety takes you out of your body. I know for me I get restless and can’t concentrate. I feel unsafe, vulnerable and exposed. My emotions are all over the place and I feel disconnected from my body and reality. On one level, I know I am OK and that is the logic in me that says that. But my primal instinct overrules that and tells me I’m not.
Mindfulness for anxiety was such a foreign concept for me all those years ago. In fact, I was outright anxious about either sitting quietly or being fully present in all that I did. I was too busy distracting myself from myself in whichever way possible.
Until finally I collapsed in a heap and had to face what was happening for me. It was either that or keep going the way I was and I most certainly didn’t want to keep living the way I was.
it takes time
It took time and practice to bring mindfulness into my life and particularly mindfulness for anxiety. It felt scary as first of all I had to acknowledge then accept that I was experiencing anxiety. I didn’t want to look like I didn’t have it all together. I wanted to keep up the facade of being a strong, independent, confident and adventurous woman.
What I soon came to realise was that it was a great tool for when I was feeling anxious, but not necessarily for when I was having an anxiety or panic attack. It was too much and triggering. Furthermore, it helps you get to know your anxiety and when you feel yourself getting triggered.
mindfulness for anxiety and thoughts
What I found over the years that I was in my head and thoughts all the time which was fuelling my anxiety. In fact, I didn’t even realise that I was anxious as I was always out there getting on with life, until I had a car accident and it all got triggered.
Mindfulness helped me and still does connect to my thoughts reminding me that a thought is only a thought. It’s what I do with it that makes it important and dominant in my life. And so unproductive. You don’t realise this until you take the time to examine and observe your thoughts. This way you can start to challenge your thoughts and be in control of them rather than them being in control of you. Once you start seeing them for what they are you begin to see what stories you tell yourself.
Furthermore, you sleep so much better as your thoughts are looping over and over as soon as your head hits the pillow!
mindfulness for anxiety and breath
Pause for a moment and check in with your breath. Are you breathing from your belly or from your chest? So many of us have short, sharp and shallow breath because this is how we react to stress. and anxiety. It’s meant to be short-term to support us when we feel threatened. However, nowadays we feel stressed and threatened most of the time.
A great way to help you breathe from your belly is put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest and take a few nice deep slow breaths in and out. Your belly should rise and fall. Imagine when you breathe out that any stress in your body is flowing outward, and as you breathe in, imagine it is being replaced by peace, calm and warmth. Allow your breath to soothe you. This takes practice. Over a period of time you’ll find that your breath slows down in its own time becoming a habit and you can automatically engage belly breathing whenever you face a stressful event.
mindfulness for anxiety and body
Our bodies are the gauges of our minds. When you finally sit down quietly and listen to your body, you’ll most probably find that there are plenty of signs there that you are anxious and stressed. Little aches and pains, headaches, cold sores, and illnesses varying in degree of severity that we ignore. Our anxiety has to go somewhere when we don’t deal with it. And that is to our beautiful temples. Here is a short meditation to help you get out of your mind and back into the wisdom of your body.
For me mindfulness and meditation have been amazing tools for managing anxiety. I found as I shone a light on my experience through a mindful lens, I developed new perspectives and gained clearer insights onto to why I was anxious. Through mindfulness, I began to put a distance between myself and my emotions. That was a great help. I began to see what I was actually thinking. You’ll be amazed as to what you’ll find. A whole lot of rubbish and time-wasting thoughts and stories.
So now, when challenging or negative thoughts arise, I’m able to see that for what they are: simply thoughts without the stories and emotions behind them. Over time I got better at witnessing them rather than attaching to them. What a relief!!
what you can do to support yourself mindfully
- Do some form of exercise. Whether that be walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, yoga, boxing, stretching. All forms of exercise are great to get you into the present moment.
- Eat well. Become aware of what you eat, why and look at quantities. Enjoy your food by taking the time to savour what you have created. In fact, start making your meals and love the process of doing that.
- Create your own sacred space to be in and start your day having quiet time before it gets busy. If you are unsure how to create your space, click here to download my beautiful Ebook.
- Journal or write to get your thoughts on paper. Simply start without worrying about spelling or grammar. I love using colourful pens: a different one each day.
- Learn how to tap. I’ve found this to be a very useful tool to get me out of head and back into my body and the present moment. It’s so simple to learn and can be used anywhere anytime as it helps interrupt anxious thinking.
- Create your essential oil blend if you have an infuser. Inhale the delicious scent each time you pass it and feel yourself relax. Here a few of my favourites: bergamot, sweet orange, lavender and rose.
- Be creative – paint, knit, sew, write, or create beautiful flower arrangements
- Put you hand on your heart, gently breathe in and out saying a mantra: I’m in the here and now. I am OK and I am safe.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s so easy to give yourself a hard time feeling you can’t cope. You can and remember this too shall pass.
simply do something you love
It’s about doing something you love and creating focus. Because when you are in the present moment, you feel a lot less anxious. Time passes by leaving you feeling so much better. If anxiety persists remember it’s OK to seek professional help. I have and still do. And I can also support you as a confidence mentor.
Download this PDF with 11 simple reminders on how to reduce overthinking and anxiety. Lastly, I’ll leave with this quote I love by Thich Nhat Hahn:
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
Love you to share this with anyone you think would benefit from this. If anything has resonated about mindfulness for anxiety or you would love to add what you do, leave a message and I’ll respond. xx
Chantal Vanderhaeghen is an intuitive guide, small business owner, creator of an international skincare brand, passionate philanthropist and meditation, reiki, tapping and mindfulness teacher. She works with women ready to make changes, shatters perceptions of beauty and perfection, and inspires people ready to become mindful entrepreneurs. She lives with her talented man in the Perth Hills and can be found online at www.unfoldyoufreedom.com.au
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