Mindfulness is such a popular topic these days, but promising new research has shown how practicing mindfulness can be a powerful and effective treatment for anxiety. In a new clinical trial from Georgetown University Medical Center, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was shown to be as effective as escitalopram (Lexapro), a commonly used antidepressant, in treating anxiety disorders in some people. Mindfulness is an effective method to bring people back to the present through breath and body awareness. It can help better regulate the body’s response to stressful, negative thoughts and rewire how a person relates to anxiety. The big question many have is: how do I get started?
Here are a few simple ways to begin a mindfulness routine:
- Pay attention to your breath: Noticing your breath is a vital starting point for any mindfulness practice. Set a timer for three minutes and turn your attention to the physical sensation of your breath (don’t manipulate or control your breathing, just focus on your normal breath). When you find yourself getting distracted, as we all do, redirect and refocus.
- Do a body scan: Body scanning is placing your attention on one body part at a time (for example, the soles of your feet) and then pausing to explore any sensations or feelings in that area. Then, shift your attention to another part of your body. Pause there and move on to another area. For a full body scan, you may want to start at your head and work your way down to your feet.
- Listen to the world around you: Mindfulness also involves turning your attention outward in addition to inward. Set a timer for five minutes and tune into the sounds around you (traffic noise, birds singing, etc). Close your eyes and hear what’s coming and going. Listen to the tone and volume.
- Take a mindfulness walk: As you walk, pay attention to the sensations of your body. How do your feet feel? Notice how your arms swing as you walk. Become more aware of your surroundings and notice the sights, sounds and smells. It’s really about opening up your senses and not walking on auto-pilot.
Distraction is normal during mindfulness, so don’t beat yourself up if you find your mind wandering during your practice. Refocusing your mind when you get distracted is the equivalent of what mindfulness practitioners call “mental pushups”. Don’t give up – with time, your ability to focus will get stronger.
Like exercise, meditation takes practice. Many of us may feel like we can’t block off a chunk of time in our already busy schedules, but even just five to ten minutes of mindfulness a day can make an enormous impact on our well-being. Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness and how it can benefit you? Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.