How Mindfulness helps lower Anxiety
By Emma Reynolds
This is in reply to a question I received recently. The person was worrying about future anxiety (in this case brought on by the perimenopause).
Thanks for your message. What I'm hearing is anxiety about more anxiety.
With mindfulness you're practicing learning to not react to the "stressor". That stressor can be a concrete thing (like someone just crashed into my car), or it can be a thought. So, worrying about the thought "I don't want more anxiety" creates anxiety. A future fear is now a present moment experience.
Mindfulness offers an alternative to this response: "Can I sit with anxiety and just watch it?" By that I mean, give the thoughts around it less air-time and instead turn your attention to how anxiety is felt in the body. If, for example, you feel tightness in the stomach you can sit with that. I mean literally sit, place a hand on the stomach and explore with curiosity where it begins and ends. Breathing into it and not fighting it, but allowing it to express itself means we're not adding to it.
By just letting it be, little by little it often subsides by itself. The tendency is to want to get involved in the thoughts- to "fix" the problem, but often this isn't possible. Instead, calm the body.
Emotions move through the body in 90 seconds (work from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor). If we don't add the fuel of thinking, that fire burns out. It's a practice that we can do over and over, but the more you practice the better you get. With patience, curiosity and compassion you will get there .
I have a 4 week self-paced online course, created especially for women in perimenopause aimed at helping them lower stress and anxiety. More here.
To try a practice right now if you're feeling anxious click here (STOP practice).