A Holistic Approach to Anxiety: Mindfulness
By Kirsten Antony, R.N. ~
In numerous ways, pandemic of COVID-19 has affected us all worldwide. Escalating feelings of anxiety are impacting the health and well-being of so many people. By becoming aware of our beingness: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, we can learn techniques of mindfulness to help combat feelings of stress, worry or anxiety.
Anxiety can be described as a mood state and one of the body’s responses to stress. Many people experience anxiety on a daily basis. It should be noted that not all anxiety should be construed as a negative emotion. Some anxiety can help us understand real danger versus perceived danger. It may also help us become more productive, focused and alert. However, when anxiety interferes with daily activities of living accompanied with agitation, excessive worrying, restlessness and fatigue, it can become a mental health issue. Some physical symptoms of anxiety are increased blood pressure, increased respiration, increased heart rate, irritability, insomnia and nausea. Some common anxiety disorders include: Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorders, Phobia Disorders and Generalized Anxiety Disorders. If you feel like anxiety has become a disorder, please seek medical assistance.
For many people that suffer from occasional and mild anxiety, mindfulness can be a useful and helpful technique. Anxiety is typically a perceived threat of a future event that has yet to transpire. As such, mindfulness is especially helpful because it brings you to the present moment. By focusing on your current state of bodily awareness and viewing emotions without judgement and reactivity, mindfulness exercises can help individuals become less reactive to perceived internal or external stresses. This can lead to acceptance and peacefulness.
Becoming conscious to the distractions that keep us from focusing on the present moment is a key aspect in mindfulness practice. Many people keep busy to avoid emotional pain or tend to multi-task because they attain a sense of accomplishment. We are a culture of distraction. Cell phones and electronic devices can be a big culprit in the epidemic of distraction. One task that can be done to practice mindfulness, is to put the device down or away and limit usage. If you are tempted to take a peek at social media, become aware of this impulse and redirect it to your breath. This is an example of becoming witness to your thoughts and redirecting the urge for a diversion into a moment of reflection and observation. It can take about two months to establish and new habit, so with any new practice, please be patient with yourself.
There are a few types of mindfulness practices. One of the most well-known mindfulness practice is called Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction (MBSR). MBSR was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 and is a program offered at many hospitals and centers worldwide. The program combines mindfulness, relaxation and yoga to help benefit those with conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and day-to-day stresses. Through mindfulness practice, we can also learn to become more compassionate and empathic toward ourselves and others. MBSR programs are typically 8 weeks in length. There are classes in the Denver area offered through Denver Botanical Gardens, Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center and Lutheran Medical Center.
A simple exercise to enjoy on the path to mindful living:
- Find a quiet place in your home or out in nature.
- Decide on an amount of time to practice. Beginners may do better with practices for a shorter time such as five minutes.
- Become aware of your body. Adjust your posture for comfort and release tension.
- Relax into the present moment and focus on the breath. Breathe slowly and intentionally from the abdomen. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Become aware of any thoughts of rumination. Let the thoughts pass by refocusing on the breath.
- Bring your awareness to your heart center and become conscious of your ability to cultivate kindness toward yourself and gratitude toward all the experiences in life that have brought you to this current time in space. Breathe in compassion, love and peace.
“If you are depressed,
You are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
You are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
You are living in the present”.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Kirsten Antony is a Registered Nurse and Holistic Health Care Practitioner and holds many certifications in the Healing Arts. For more information please visit: www.kirstenantony.com or www.facebook.com/soultosoleholistichealthcare or call 303-668-8992.