As human beings, we all worry. We worry about the big things, such as relationships, jobs status or life direction. We worry about small things, such as your to-do list or a comment you wish you could retract. Worrying is a normal part of everyday life, but what can be problematic is when we let our worries run us, and not the other way round. When worrying is left uncontrolled and unmanaged it can manifest itself into chronic anxiety and panic attacks.
Life is not the same as it was even 30 years ago, and our brains have an evolutionary fault in the sense that we can’t process the amount of information we’re taking in. If we consider scrolling through our Facebook or twitter feeds for 10 minutes, what are we taking in? We are asking our brains to process; that news article you read, the pictures of a friend on her night out, a friend having a rant, the list goes on. The mind is constantly busy telling stories, interpreting an experience by filling in missing pieces of information and then ruminating over the stories it has created. We then ask our brains to process all of this, on top of our day to day worries listed above. Our brains can feel cluttered and busy. Before you know it, you are in full blown panic, simply in reaction to your thoughts. This pattern can impact your sleep, digestive system, and cause exhaustion.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation which allows us to live in the here and now, and lets us slow everything down. Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hover overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
Often I notice clients either living in the past or the future. I prompt them to think of driving a car, what would happen if you were to drive the car whilst looking in the rear view mirror? You would crash. And what would happen if you were to focus on 6 or 7 cars in front of you? You would crash. This crash looks like anxiety or low mood.
Here are 3 quick tips, we can apply to our week for when you are lost in worry.
Focus on your lower body. Focus on how your feet feel on the floor, how do they feel in your shoes, what are the sensations in your lower legs, then move to your upper legs. As you move up your body, how do you feel the weight of yourself in the chair? Move your mind to your chest, how does your breathing feel? Can you feel your chest moving in and out? Can you feel the air moving in and out of your nostrils?
This technique of anchoring is a great way of slowing the mind down, and to bring yourself back into the moment, which will avoid the metaphorical crash we discussed earlier.
2. Take in the world around you.
This is a grounding technique which has proven successful when clients are experiancing overwhelming thoughts and worry
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you hear
- 3 things you smell
- 2 things you feel
- 1 thing you taste.
3. Finger breathing
Hold one hand in front of you, palm facing towards you. With the index finger of your other hand, trace up the outside length of your thumb while you breathe in, pausing at the top of your thumb and then trace it down the other side while you breathe out. That’s one breath. Trace up the side of the next finger while you breathe in, pause at the top, and then trace down the other side. That’s two breaths. Continue with this technique and reverse when the hand is completed. This technique is brilliant for panic, as it gives you something visual to concentrate on, alongside slowing down your breathing, and it also incorporates your senses to bring you back to the moment.
If you are suffering from anxiety or worry, I would love to have a chat about how CBT and mindfulness can help you. Therapy does not have to be long term, it can be as little as 8 sessions.
We currently hold 100% success rate in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
For more information, send us a message today via www.jessicaleighcbt.com
Have a lovely day,