Autumn is a time of renewal. Much like our social lives, many things have “fallen off.” As a community and as individuals, we are truly reduced to the “roots” and foundational supports keeping us standing tall and even holding one another up.
In reflection, we ask ourselves and ask you:
Have you learned a new hobby this year? Started a new business venture? Connected with an unexpected person? Maintained your sanity by comforting yourself with various coping skills? Create any new self-care habit?
Living in Gratitude
This year, we’re collectively moving through what no one could predict- year 2+ of COVID times, odd social behaviors and new ways of operating. Now more than ever it’s important to reflect on what is most important to us. We were stripped of all excess distractions and left with what really matters.
What are the top 5 things you realized you could live without this year?
Mindful eating is a big way to connect with ourselves. Apart from seasonal goodies and recreational activities with friends like a glass of wine, fill most of your days with a colorful variety of fruits and veggies. The antioxidants and vitamins that you ingest, will “glow” on your skin.
It’s also imperative to replenish the antioxidants, vitamins and peptides with topical creams and serums to maintain the appearance of healthy-looking skin.
A mindful way of self-care for yourself surely helps you be your best self for those around you.
5 mindfulness practices to help reduce anxiety
Worry and anxiety affect all of us; anywhere from 6-18% people of people experience anxiety. You’re not alone. Whether real or imagined, the mind is tricky! It can make us feel anxious even without an identifiable fear. Fortunately, mindfulness and meditation practices are extremely effective in alleviating anxiety.
Today we’re exploring 5 mindfulness practices for getting present, and learning how to respond to anxiety in a healthier way.
1. Connecting with the breath
Focusing the mind on the breath of the body helps connect us to the present moment. This is useful in times of anxiety because when we’re focused on the here and now, we aren’t fixating on the past or future concerns. Focusing on the present moment offers our minds a break from being preoccupied and reacting to the content of our thoughts. It also gives us a chance to step back from the spiral of worry to observe what’s happening with a calmer mind. When we focus our attention on the breath of the body, we offer our minds a chance to slow down, and gain perspective.
To begin, simply follow the movement of each breath as it draws in and out.
Observing each inhale and each exhale, as it connects you to this very moment.
Focus on any sensations that may arise and use the breath to connect you to the present moment.
And then just being open to everything in your present experience.
Observing the weight of your body.
The temperature of the room.
Any sounds around you.
Connect to everything in this very moment.
And now, notice how it feels to rest your mind in present moment awareness.
2. Mind and Body Connection
Most of us are well aware of the mind and body connection, but it’s rarely as profound as when we’re struggling with anxiety. Through mindfulness we can tune into the mind- body connection and interrupt the vicious cycle of anxiety. As soon as we notice we’re caught in it, we can stop, close our eyes, take a few deep breaths, and tune into the body.
Dropping into the breath and the body grounds us in the present moment. Here, we’re better able to observe our emotions and thoughts and we can see how they manifest in the body as physical sensations.
That tension in your back? That knot in your belly? Sweating or heart palpitations?
Tuning into how anxiety manifests as physical sensation helps us become more aware of the interconnectedness of our being, and offers us a direct way to work with anxiety.
Awareness is the first step to change.
3. Thoughts and non-reactivity
Mediation is difficult for most. It’s hard to stop a spinning mind.
Realize, our thoughts are just that. When we see them for what they are, they lose their power. Gently, guide them back to reality.
Picture yourself lying on the grass, watching the clouds above. You calmly observe the many shapes and sizes. Watching them pass by freely.
Whether you have a happy thought or an anxious thought, treat it the same way.
As we cultivate moment-to-moment awareness we begin to notice how our anxiety is connected to our thoughts. Each thought is just a story we’re telling ourselves and mostly likely, not as catastrophic as we believe.
By learning to let thoughts arise, and acknowledge them without reactivity, we interrupt the flow of anxiety, which thrives on negative projections of the future.
Meditation helps us develop this non-reactive ability. Start with a 2-3 minute practice, and go from there.
Changing how we react to our thoughts doesn’t come easily. We can use a technique called “noting” to strengthen the habit of non-reactivity. To begin the practice of noting, each time you’re draw to a thought, mentally note it.
If there’s sadness, note the word sadness. If there is fear note the word fear. Or if you prefer you can observe what the mind is doing. You can note: planning, ruminating, speculating.
By noting a thought, you’re creating room for them, inviting them into the space. Rather than rather than running from your thoughts or pushing or pulling, you instead form a new relationship with them. The more you note your thoughts and emotions without identifying with them, the more they’ll begin to flow through you like cloud on a fall day.
You’ll begin to recognize thoughts as thoughts and not necessarily future predictions. You’ll recognize emotions as emotions without judgment.
This is when anxiety begins to dissolve.
Pausing is one of the most effective ways of working with anxiety. We pause all the time in life. Between sentences, at stop lights, in conversations… But when it comes to stress and anxiety, pausing is extremely difficult.
Pausing is a strategy that can also allow us to re-condition our tendencies.
The key to this pausing practice is in noticing the gap as anxiety arises. What’s the gap? What I’m referring to is that tiny window between the time anxiety starts and the time we react to it. If we can pause for even the slightest second before anxiety sweeps us away, we’re able to be more mindful about our response to it.
Each time a thought or emotion rises, see if it’s possible to pause for just a second to observe your experience.
Observe the thought or emotion without pursuing it, or rejecting it.
Just note it. Without creating a story. Without any judgment.
Then, after the pause, bring your awareness back to the breath.
And in that space you can question your thoughts more objectively, asking yourself are these thoughts 100% true? Might I be exaggerating, projecting or jumping to conclusions?
By pausing, we’re able to view our thoughts and emotions with perspective and clarity, which helps to de-escalate our anxiety.
It’s likely you’ll feel drawn to practice different techniques at different times to root and soothe you.
Choose the mindfulness practice that feels right for you.
Unclench your jar and remember to take some cleansing breaths. We’re here.
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