Anxiety is something all of us experience from time to time. Feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease are a normal part of the human experience. But when severe, chronic anxiety interferes with one’s ability to function, to maintain a job or perform academically, to find happiness, or to create and nurture relationships. Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million adults every year.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Some symptoms of anxiety are intense worry, irritability, insomnia, sweating, upset stomach, rapid or strong heartbeat, muscle tension, frequent urination or diarrhea, and shortness of breath or hyperventilation. Untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to hypertension, heart disease, stomach and digestive disorders, and the development of other mental and physical illness.
Mindfulness – What is it?
Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It is a mental state that, when achieved, focuses one’s awareness on the present moment. Once present, it is possible to acknowledge and accept the feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations that come with anxiety. Working toward a mindful state of mind brings objectivity and calm, making room for one to work through the actual cause of stress. This therapeutic technique can be a powerful tool for someone suffering with anxiety.
Using Mindfulness to Ease Anxiety
The practice of mindfulness has been part of various religions and traditions around the world for thousands of years, but in the last decade, its benefits have been newly evident when applied as part of mental health treatment. Countless mental health professionals and treatment centers now incorporate mindfulness practices as part of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
As a therapeutic tool, therapists teach clients how to stop the spiral of thoughts and physical feelings. Being “present” can help one arrest a spiral of anxious thoughts, calm its physical and mental effects. Once calm and present, we can reflect on our feelings and thoughts rather than ruminate on them or react to them impulsively. Mindfulness brings awareness to sensations of the body, it focuses our attention, rights our self-perception, and improves our physical and mental health. If you or someone you know are in need of treatment for anxiety, reach out to a mental health professional.