With the stressful pace of modern life, it can be tough to stay grounded at the best of times. Thanks to our smart phones, we now have 24/7-access to negative news and work emails – which can send our minds into a spiral of anxiety if we’re not careful.
One way of managing anxiety is through mindfulness. Mindfulness practices provide us with tools to help us stay in the present moment and feel a sense of clarity, rather than fretting about the future. Here are some quick techniques to get started with.
(NB. If you are experiencing severe and debilitating anxiety, then you should always seek help from a medical professional as a first port of call.)
When you next feel anxious, try this quick exercise: as you inhale, count up to 6 as you fill your lungs, and then up to 10 as you slowly exhale. Repeat this ten times. By slowing down your breathing, it forces the body to release more carbon dioxide, which in turn slows down your heart rate, making you feel calmer.
A good way of feeling grounded or ‘anchored’ is by focusing on the lower half of your body. Sit in a chair and concentrate on how your feet feel planted on the floor. Then move your attention to your legs – do they feel heavy or light? Combining this with the above breathing exercises is a good way to calm a racing mind.
If you have the same thoughts swilling round and around in your head like laundry in a washing machine, the best thing you can do is get them out on paper. Writing your worries down in a journal is a good way of looking at them objectively and gaining a sense of clarity outside of your emotions. (E.g. what advice would you give if it were somebody else having these thoughts instead of you?)
Guided meditation is a great way to train your mind not to spiral into a panic and concentrate on the present moment. There are plenty of apps offering 10-minute daily coaching sessions, where experts talk you through what to visualise and focus on to prevent your thoughts from wandering. Find a quiet comfortable space, plug in your headphones and you’re good to go!
Getting out in nature
If the majority of your day is spent staring at screens, going for a walk in the park or a nature reserve can be a good distraction. Appreciating the simple beauty of nature can really help put things into perspective and ‘get out of your head’ so to speak. Focus on everything you can see and hear and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine!