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Anxiety and Mindfulness

Finding the emotional and psychic space to focus on relaxation can be difficult in a busy city like New York, and busy mind alike. When you suffer from anxiety or depression, it can be very difficult to want or have relaxation. We think of mindfulness and we thinking of fancy ways to meditate, which may or may not work for everyone.

The mind can be difficult to quiet down when you have so many ruminating, fleeting thoughts. Perhaps you are constantly thinking about your children, or wanting children. Perhaps you are preoccupied with anxiety about maintaining your job, relationships, or finding yourself overwhelmed with too many responsibilities. Maybe you find yourself thinking about past experiences of abuse or betrayal that has tarnished your ability to trust others again. Your mind may feel cluttered with thoughts that are beyond your grasp and you may feel unable to address all that coexists in your internal world.

I find that many people really struggle with mindfulness (focusing and living in the present moment) and live much of their lives worrying about the future or dwelling in the past–both of which take away time and presence from the present moment that we are actually living in real-time. When we our constantly feeling anxiety, our sympathetic nervous systems are chronically activated and we function through our daily routines very near our threshold of tolerance. When we encounter a stressor, we immediately overwhelm our threshold for tolerance of stress, which may send us into feeling panic. In order to self regulate, it is important to bring yourself back to your breath, to re-introduce oxygen back into your body, which can help ground you again. When you’re feeling like you’re about to have a panic/anxiety attack it is important to remember that in order to stabilize yourself and self regulate, you can use your breathing as a tool to bring calm for the moment by taking deep cleansing breaths–long inhales and long exhales. Deep, conscious breathing can physiologically assist your body in de-escalating the crisis your mind and body has been sent into so that you may be able to eventually reflect and think clearer, as well as,¬† feel more grounded. Breathing is a tool that you can practice and take with you everywhere.

The more you practice conscious, deep breathing in the short term, the better your chances of reducing anxiety and depression when you can continue to rely on your breath as a source for soothing and bringing yourself back into the present moment through conscious breathing in the long run…and when you bring yourself back into the present moment, you are practicing mindfulness.

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