Preventing Anxiety in Our Everyday Lives: Mindfulness Can Help

Anxiety is more common than we realize. When we have some form of control over our lives we are able to mask anxiety by avoiding anxiety-provoking situations.  Oftentimes we do not even recognize feelings of anxiety that develop, as we become preoccupied with achieving tasks and keeping to the schedule.  However, when anxiety develops and is not addressed, it can affect our productivity, interactions with others, relationships, and overall wellbeing.  It may have physical manifestations as well. The anxiety among the population has dramatically increased over time, reaching its greatest height presently, that it has become an epidemic.  Treatment that worked, previously, may help to provide coping skills, however, previously suggested treatments may not be effective in lessening the anxiety that’s become so common now.  Greater interventions and lifestyle adjustments may be necessary because the anxiety has a significant environmental influence.

A combination of the fast pace of the schedule, increased stress, overwhelming responsibilities, and rapid scanning of electronics, contribute to the anxiety experienced present day.  The body and mind are both over-stimulated, which requires a treatment for both, the mind and body.  This sensory overload that develops, can be related to limited processing time throughout our experiences and interactions.  We are handling numerous responsibilities, and occurrences at a rapid pace, without enough time for our minds and bodies to process.

What we have known anxiety to be, as a condition, has had physical manifestations by history.  However, this more prevalent anxiety, resulting from environmental factors, causes a greater amount of sensory overload for the body than may have been known and treated previously.  Anxiety is essentially, a fear.  When we are taking in too much information, engaging in too many interactions, and experiences, as we internalize doubts, fears, and disappointments throughout these experiences, we need an adequate amount of time to process the information and interactions, in order to formulate productive thoughts that contribute to a positive sense of self.  We need to have the time to understand our interactions and experiences with others, and the environment, in order to realize our strength, and handle our anxieties that develop throughout our day to day.  As we keep up with the fast pace, while following through with endless responsibilities, and frequent use of electronic devices, our processing time becomes greatly limited.

This is where mindfulness can be of tremendous value. The practice Mindfulness and the development and maintenance of a deep connection with others, are two things that can work to decrease anxiety.  They each aid us in dealing with anxiety in different ways.  Mindfulness is maintaining an awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings at the present moment, while accepting those thoughts and feelings exactly as they are, without judgment or expectation.  The process of thinking, feeling, and experiencing, slows our minds and bodies, and results in a calming effect on the mental state.  The acceptance of the present moment, and all thoughts and feelings without judgment, eliminates negative opinions that can further contribute to anxiety.  Additionally, mindfulness allows the time we need for processing, which can, in turn, help to prevent anxiety.

Spending the time to connect with others also slows us down. However, a deep connection can help to decrease anxiety further.  A positive connection with another person also helps to provide encouragement for an individual, in an effort to build self-confidence and strength, the key elements needed to overcome anxiety and combat the fears that surface.  A deep connection is different than interaction.  We may have numerous interactions throughout our days, and lives.  Allowing ourselves to pay attention to others, listen and understand each other can help us to develop stronger connections with those around us.  These connections that we form, have the power to build trust within relationships, and self-confidence for each individual, resulting from the connection developed. Through trust, understanding, nonjudgement, and acceptance we can instill self-confidence in another person, whether it be in a personal relationship, or a therapeutic relationship.  This deeply felt connection could help to decrease anxiety over time.

The combination of the mindfulness and the connection to others throughout experiences can cause us to stop and feel another person’s presence.  The feeling of being around others and connecting to others, can also decrease the anxiety felt by the body. However the connection felt needs to be a positive one.  In this way, a relationship between a healthcare professional and a client, referred to as a therapeutic alliance, can be highly effective.  The formation of a therapeutic alliance can benefit a client by having positive effects on an individual’s self esteem and sense of self.  The relationship a person has with a therapist can serve as a model for other relationships in a person’s life.

In summary, we have a better chance at preventing anxiety if we

  1. Stay present in the moment and accept ourselves and our feelings without judgement, accept the experience for what it is (mindfulness).
  2. Actively slow down our pace.  
  3. Decrease our use of electronics (which helps to slow down our pace by decreasing the rapid scanning).
  4. Spend time to process experiences and feelings, realize what we feel and experience.
  5. Develop a deep connection with others (by spending the time to connect with others, understand others, and understand ourselves within the relationship as it develops).

If we become aware of a challenge or any doubt we have, we can address it.  We need the processing time to be able to do that.  Believing in ourselves, and our strength, to face anything, can eliminate the fear (the anxiety).

It becomes easier to build our strength and confidence in ourselves with support from others, and spending time around others who believe in us, and our capabilities. Recognizing that we are not alone, and receiving help from others, can make a difference. We must utilize the support system we have, and even recruit one, if we identify the need.

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