Mindfulness and Anxiety

Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

It is well known that feelings of anxiety are connected to future-focused thoughts.  That is, when we feel anxious, our thoughts are quite likely focused on something that could go wrong in the future, rather than on what is actually happening to us right now.

As such, developing strategies for connecting to the present moment by moving our thoughts out of the future and into the "now" can be helpful in lessening our experience of anxiety.  This act of redirecting our focus into the present moment is often called, "Mindfulness".

There are a number of ways to practice mindfulness and, thus, reconnect to the present.  Below are some examples of mindfulness activities that you might wish to try:

1) Eating: The next time you're eating a snack or a meal, try eating mindfully with your first two or three bites by paying close attention to the physical sensations of the food - notice the touch/texture, taste, smell, appearance.

2) Breathing: Take 5 minutes to practice deep breathing, inhaling through your nostrils and into your diaphragm, and exhaling through your mouth.  Notice how your belly rises and falls; notice how the air feels on your nostrils.  Notice any sensations in your body - aches, pains, comfort, etc. - as you breathe in and out.

3) Play "I Spy" with yourself: Take a look around you.  Pick one object and closely examine it.  Take note of its shape, colour, size, etc.

There are countless ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life.  At Mindful.org, you can subscribe to receive "Mindful Interrupters", which are essentially short suggestions for connecting to your present experience.

If you're feeling anxious, try one of the practices suggested above - or create your own!  How does being present impact your emotional state?