TRY SOME SELF-HELP MINDFULNESS TO GET STRESS, ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION UNDER CONTROL
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. If you are not mindful of your thinking, emotions or energy levels when dealing with stress, you can go from an inability to effectively cope with stressful situations to a more severe cycle of mood swings and a more profound negative outlook on yourself and life. If you notice yourself saying things like, “I’m a failure”, “I’m not cut out to succeed”, or “I always make mistakes”, or you find yourself worrying more often, unable to concentrate or focus, then stress has taken a turn into anxiety or depression. More frequent negative thoughts lead to self-judgment and negative emotions which deepen feelings of helplessness, a hallmark of anxiety and depression. Getting professional treatment for depression is vital but mindfulness can help in both treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression with tools that keep the emotional cycle of negative thinking, rumination and worry from getting severe. Learning to recognize anxiety responses and manage anxiety accordingly is the best way to eliminate that helpless, out-of-control feeling. Despite what stressful situations may be happening in your life you can control your reactions to them so that feeling stressed isn’t inevitable.
Mindfulness skills and strategies to cope with emotional overwhelm can be effective complementary treatments and contribute to the development of long term emotional self-regulation. The practice of mindfulness, cultivating awareness of the present moment, has been researched and shown to lessen stress reactions to challenging events. Mindfulness techniques have also been proven to be an effective alternative to drugs or pain medication for treating symptoms in people prone to anxiety and depression.
The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind, relax the body and allow a state of calm and peace to dominate and soothe the physical, mental and emotional apparatus. Strengthening one’s ability to relax in this still and quiet state trains the mind to release attachment to over-thinking. The benefits of meditation to those with anxiety and depression include increased focus, attention and concentration. Meditation also trains the mind to release thoughts of past or future events and to be present in the moment. With improved awareness around thoughts and emotions, when negative thoughts arise it becomes possible to choose and touch back into better feelings of well-being and friendliness toward oneself. With practice, meditation teaches us to use our own inner wisdom to recognize subtle feelings of mental and emotional imbalance, realize that negative thoughts are not facts and refocus thinking into the present.
1. Set aside 5 minutes so you can relax and not be disturbed. You can set your phone timer and turn on calming music if you like.
2. Get into a comfortable seated position with hands in your lap and feet on the floor. Let your shoulders drop and relax. Close your eyes and focus inward.
3. Take 3 or 4 deep breaths and allow your mind to focus lightly on the incoming and outgoing breath. Visualize the tension leaving your body from your head to your feet, and imagine the stress, fear or worry draining from you through your toes; with each breath simply melting away.
4. Continue to breath and allow any thoughts or thinking to gently leave your mind, flowing down a river and out to the sea. Let them go and return your focus to the present moment and your breathing once again.
5. Keep going with this for five minutes and as you return to your day feeling more relaxed and refreshed, use this focus practice to calm yourself when you notice an anxious emotion or thought reaction. Simply focus on your breath and let your thoughts slip down the river as you feel lighter and peaceful.
6. Try doing this meditation regularly and you should feel less stressed overall.
You can receive a free meditation guide by visiting my website: https://www.marilyndecalo.com/meditation-guide