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Harnessing Mindfulness to Alleviate Anxiety: A Practical Guide 

Anxiety is a common human experience, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty. You may find yourself occasionally overwhelmed or struggling to manage your emotions. Rest assured, experiencing anxiety doesn’t equate to a personal shortcoming. It’s a normal response to life’s challenges. 

Recognizing this fact is the first step towards managing anxiety. The next step? Developing mindfulness skills. To make sense of your feelings, it’s essential to learn how you perceive your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions. Think of this as getting in touch with your “observing self.” 

Understanding Mindfulness for Anxiety Management 

The aim of mindfulness in managing anxiety is to create a distance between yourself and the thoughts that stir up negative emotions. When you disengage from your “thinking self,” you can reconnect with your observing self. 

This change lessens the control your thoughts have over you. You begin to realize that you have a choice in how you feel and how you react. Mindfulness helps in this important process. It brings clarity to the present moment and releases us from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Other benefits of mindfulness include: 

  • Better control over our emotional responses 
  • An understanding of the connection between mind and body 
  • A decrease in perfectionistic tendencies 
  • A less judgemental outlook on life 

3 Simple Techniques to Discover Your Observing Self with Mindfulness Skills 

  1. Focus on Breathing: To connect more deeply with your self-awareness, you need space to breathe. Create this space by taking regular breaks from your digital devices, news feeds, and social media. These constant distractions can increase anxiety and prevent you from staying present. Once you’ve achieved a sense of mental calm, pay close attention to your breath. Notice the speed and depth of your breathing. This self-awareness is the first step towards engaging your observing self. 
  1. Rethink Negative Thoughts: You have the capacity to notice your thoughts. In essence, you have thoughts, you become aware of them, and your observing self acknowledges this awareness. This ability allows you to gain some mental distance and perspective, meaning you don’t have to accept every anxious thought as truth. 
  1. For instance, you might have a thought like, “I’m not being supportive enough to my friends.” Through your observing self, you can recognize and reframe this thought as: “At this moment, I’m having a thought that I’m not being supportive enough.” This rethinking allows you to notice the thought and acknowledge your awareness of it, rather than being consumed by it. 
  1. Use Visual Imagery: Meditation is a common way to achieve mindfulness. During meditation, you can practice “saying goodbye” to intrusive thoughts. Picture yourself buying a train ticket for unwanted thoughts. Imagine putting them on a departing train. Watch as the train pulls away and fades into the distance. This visualization can help you let go of negative thoughts without judgement or resistance. 

Like any technique, mindfulness skills can be taught and are often learned more effectively with the guidance of a skilled professional. If you’re looking for support in this area, please contact us for a free Discovery Call at 604-229-4887. We’re here to help. 

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