Worrying is a normal part of life, but it shouldn’t be something that takes over and controls your life. Because of how fast-paced and stressful life has become, it is easy to get caught up in worries and let it spiral out of control.
Like Organic Soul on Facebook
Big things, like work, relationships and even the direction life is taking you can cause a lot of worries, but there is also a myriad of smaller things that contribute to these worries on a daily basis. Dwelling on each and every one of these worries can quickly become overwhelming and if not dealt with could even escalate into anxiety or perhaps even panic attacks.
One of the most insidious things about worrying is that the more time you spend over-analyzing everything, the easier it is for the mind to make your fears seem as if they are facts. This is why it is possible to have emotional and sometimes even physical responses to your worries if you are not careful.
When things progress to this stage it is also possible that worries can start to interfere with rational thoughts and make things appear much, much worse than what they are in reality.
Too Much Worrying Is Not A Good Thing
Worrying serves a purpose, as it kept our ancestors out of harm’s way, but in modern life, it can quickly turn into a vicious cycle and spiral out of control. Typically people turn to either costly therapy for relief or medication that can have mixed results as well as unwanted side effects. However, there is an alternative in the form of mindfulness techniques that can be done by just about anyone.
Even if you are not familiar with meditation the following mindfulness practices are quick to perform and effective at overcoming worrying and stress as well as anxiety.
1. Anchor Yourself
One of the most efficient mindfulness practices for overcoming worry is to anchor yourself when you feel your calmness slipping away. To do this, first focus your attention on your lower body. Start with your feet and concentrate on the sensation of them inside your socks, shoes or even against the ground, depending on where you are and what your circumstances are.
Then, slowly start to expand your focus so that you also include the sensations that you feel in your legs – firstly, your lower legs and then your upper legs as well.
Pay attention to how your legs are feeling, whether they are hot or cold, heavy or light. Finally, focus on the sensation of your breathing as well, taking care to relax each time that you breathe out.
Anchoring yourself is a useful way to overcome worrying, as it can be done anywhere and almost any time. You don’t even have to close your eyes to anchor yourself, and it can be done while sitting or walking around. All you have to do is anchor yourself and then breathe.
2. Count Your Breaths
Counting your breaths is another calming technique that is efficient on its own and even better when done while you are anchoring yourself. Firstly, perform the technique you have learned to anchor yourself and then, as you breathe in, count up to six.
Do this while breathing all the way in before counting to ten as you breathe all the way out. What this does is lengthen both your inhales and exhales, effectively slowing down your breathing in a natural manner.
The reason why the exhale is timed to be longer than the inhale is to force your body to release more carbon dioxide. The end result is a slower heart rate, a sensation of calmness and more emotional equilibrium.
It is important that you fit the numbers to your breath instead of trying to do it the other way around. As long as you are exhaling for at least two counts longer than what you inhale, the technique will work, so find a ratio that works best for you if you struggle with the count of six and ten. Also, don’t be afraid to take one normal breath in-between if you can’t manage to continue breathing while counting.
In situations where you are feeling so much anxiety and panic that it is too hard to count, try to say “in” and “out” to yourself as you breathe in and out fully. Once again, do your best to elongate each breath when you exhale. Do this for at least one full minute, but continue going if you need more time to fully calm down or ward off a panic attack.
3. Perform Finger Breathing
Another variation of counting your breath is finger breathing. Perform finger breathing by holding one of your hands, with the palm facing towards you, in front of you. Take the index finger of your opposite hand, and then trace the outside length of your thumb as you inhale.
Pause at the top of your thumb, and then continue tracing down its other side as you exhale. This counts as one breath. Continue to trace up the side of your index finger, once again breathing in as you move up the finger and exhaling as you trace down the other side. When you finish with the pinky, go back to the ring finger and continue with the tracing in reverse.
The advantage of the finger breathing technique is that your brain has something visual to focus on and you are using your hands too. Use this technique when there is too much going on around you to simply close your eyes and focus your attention inwards. Because this technique is so simple, it is easy to teach to young people and even children.
Why Is Mindfulness So Effective?
Mindfulness, like many different forms of meditation, has been used for many years because of how effective it is at helping people to relax. While the results speak for themselves, there is also scientific proof that changes occur to both the structure as well as the function of the brain when using mindfulness practices.
In fact, studies have been performed to measure the effectiveness of meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being, yielding some interesting results. One study focusing on mindfulness meditation determined there was moderate evidence of improved anxiety as well as improved depression and even pain.
The great thing about mindfulness practices is that they don’t have to take up a lot of your time and will help you to form a habit that is easy to stick with. Eventually it will be easier for your brain to stay focused in the present as well, instead of jumping around to the past or future with worries.
Remember, worry and anxiety can easily skew your perception, so by being more aware of the present it is easier to experience things we have been taking for granted as fresh and new.