Anxiety is not logical.
This does not make it any easier to contend with. Knowing this.
When anxiety strikes, logic is nowhere to be seen.
It can help though, logic.
It takes some work.
You know that if you don’t tap the faucet three times the pipes will explode… so you do it… tap them. There is no logic to this, you understand that, but you tap the faucet three times anyway.
You feel your heart beating faster and breathing is hard, your mind is racing.. When you think about it, there is nothing you can put your finger on, nothing that is causing this, you know it is not logical even. But this does not halt the feelings. It does not pacify the anxiety.
Not a panic attack, just anxiety that is becoming so strong it is like a panic attack.
Sounds so simple, just stop, calm down, get a grip.
just anxiety is very POWERFUL.
There is no off switch. or is there?
A way to alter our relationship with our minds, or thoughts. Possibly to regain some control. To take the brain off autopilot.
The mind, left on its own, drifts about, touching on may subjects lightly. Like when you can’t sleep, the things you think about.. that keep you awake.
Anxiety can be like this, no logic, touching on many things, allowing the anxiety to build.
This fuels anxiety. Yes we all have bills to pay, We will, at some point have to leave the house, maybe drive in traffic, maybe meet someone disagreeable, maybe we will trip, maybe we will run out of milk… but all these things will not happen all at once. Anxiety, though can cause us to see all these things at once, and more. We know they will not happen, well do we?
Anxiety left to run rampant, builds and builds. Taking back control of these random thoughts can help to calm yourself.
Mindfulness can help you do this.
Focus on the now.
If those rampant thoughts can not enter our minds, we can calm ourselves.
There are many aspects to mindfulness, it is a skill that will need practice. At first it will be difficult, but worthy of the effort.
Learning Mindfulness is something that is best with a therapist. Yes, you can apply it on your own, even learn it on your own, just as you can learn any skill. You may develop a stronger skill with a therapist.
The core of Mindfulness is to look at your thoughts, sensations without judging them. To allow them to flow through you with out reacting.
Mindfulness is a part of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. This Therapy is successful for helping treat Borderline Personality Disorder, It is also used, with success in treating Anxiety and Depression. Now it is being applied to self harm, eating disorders, social conflicts and the list grows.
Mindfulness trains you to focus on doing one thing at a time, forcing your mind to do only one thing, to stop the random thinking, to not worry about things to come, but only what you are doing right now.
Lets use breathing as an example. we do this automatically, we do not think about it. For a calming exercise we will do the opposite. Concentrate on breathing. When breathing in, you say to yourself “breathing in” when exhaling, “breathing out”. With each breath this is what you do, “breathing in” “Breathing out”
To make it more of an exercise sit comfortably. close your eyes. Take a long slow deep breath, in your mind you say “breathing in”. Feel your chest rise, when exhaling you say, in your mind “breathing out”
In and out through your nose, this slows breathing down. When anxiety attacks you hyperventilate from fast short breaths. Slow breathing down.
Do this for a few minutes, nothing else, eyes closed, with each long slow breath you say breathing in, and breathing out.
So, why do this?
First off, breathing like this calms you, stops hyperventilation.
Second, the one thought process does not allow all the anxious thoughts that were tormenting you to invade.
So this practice is used more. When doing something, concentrate on only that thing, do not multitask.
It is not easily done, but with practice you begin to see that it is possible to drive out those random thoughts that torment you.
This can be applied to all you do.
Eating an apple as an example. Let this simple act consume you. Picture the tree it grew on, all those red apples against the green background. The long tall ladders the pickers used to select the apple you are about to eat. The bushel basket it was placed in with care… Look at the deep red skin, the perfect shape nature gave it. Twist off the stem, feel the woody texture between your fingers. Let the apples smell invade your nose. Take your first bite, feel the juice squeezing out of the apple, hear the crunch. The sweet tart flavour. Feel the texture of the apples skin and the crunchy apple. Chew it slowly, enjoy the juicy flavour. Picture the tree again, leaves blowing in the wind. Use all your senses, smell, touch, sound, textures, temperatures.. sweet sour, salty bitter… Bright dark, use it all.
This simple act, where you took control of your thoughts, driving out other thoughts. Being in the present only.
House work, washing the dishes, slowly and carefully, each plate washed with care, watching the pattern of the bubbles on the plate, feeling the slippery texture, the warmth of the water.
Anxiety is often a loop of information circling in your mind. practicing some mindfulness exercises can break that loop. We can use Mindfulness to attack anxiety or these thoughts directly. This is more involved.
We start with a calming exercise, the breathing one above. Taking back control of our breathing, stopping the hyperventilation, this slows our heart beat as well. Then we look at our thoughts, but as an observer, not a participant. Merely observation them. Don’t get caught up in them, watch them come and go. Let them go. We accept the thoughts, we do not judge them. Don’t identify with them. This teaches us to not overreact to these invasive thoughts. But to exist with them. When they become too powerful, practice a mindful exercise to drive them out and to calm yourself.
So it is not just as easy as this, it involves a lot of practice. There are many exercises you can do that will reinforce your abilities. Group therapy for mindfulness is beneficial.
Mindfulness allows you to focus on the present, anxiety wants you to focus on what may be. What is unlikely be.