Managing Anxiety with the Power of Mindfulness
I can’t be the only one realizing as a (nearly) 30-year-old I didn’t develop the best coping skills growing up.
Imagine my surprise when I began seeing a social worker who told me, in blunt terms:
“You have almost NO healthy coping skills.”
However, what she did for me in that moment was make me confront a harsh reality: most of us don’t take the time to really process our negative emotions.
This includes me.
When we feel anxiety, stress, grief, sadness – it’s easy to turn to our typical comforts like food, drink, or escapism through popular media. While all these things can be an aspect of self-care in moderation, they can also leave us ignoring negative emotions instead of dealing with them.
According to a 2021 survey by Statistics Canada, about one in four Canadians aged 18 and older showed symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s 25 per cent of participants. So, I get that it’s frustrating.
If you have trouble sleeping due to racing thoughts, always need music or media playing, or feel sadness and anxiety if you’re just sitting around not doing anything … it’s likely that you’re distracting yourself instead of practicing mindfulness.
But what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be a practice or meditation where you allow yourself to feel and sense everything that’s happening in the present without judgment. It’s the art of allowing yourself to experience the world around you, including your emotions, so you can deal with them.
Mindfulness in Practice
That means that instead of panicking or getting frustrated at our own anxiety, we acknowledge the emotion and begin processing it. Firstly, by getting out of our minds and existing in the moment.
If you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, making your heart race, sending your thoughts spiraling out of control – stop for a second and take a deep breath.
Close your eyes. Breathe in, feel your lungs expand, breathe out. Listen closely to what’s happening around you, can you hear birds? Construction? That obnoxiously loud ceiling fan? Take in the smells, feel the world around you for a moment and just BE.
All mindfulness is, is being aware. It’s accepting what’s happening in that moment instead of catastrophizing.
If you need a visual, imagine bumping into anxiety on the street like you would with any regular person. Instead of just running away or pretending not to notice, you stop and say:
“Oh, hello anxiety!”
Anxiety might respond:
“Oh, hey you unsuccessful loser! How unproductive have you been today?”
Mindfulness gives us the ability to be in the moment and address the issue.
So, instead of running, instead of making an excuse to leave, we look at anxiety, take in the air, acknowledge them, and respond.
“I see you anxiety and I understand your concerns, but what you’re saying to me right now isn’t really helping me do anything about my productivity. I’d rather focus on what I can do in this present moment.”
While I probably made this all sound very easy, it does take practice and a lot of unlearning past behaviours. Luckily, along with my suggestions, there’s another way you can start living a happier life.
Flowjo's Self Care Bucket list contains 100 cards specifically designed to help you develop self-love that goes deeper. It has tons of self-care activities to bring genuine joy into your life and get you away from feeling burnt out.
Just like mindfulness, you can be in the present moment with a Self Care Bucket list and begin your self-care journey.
With peace and love,