Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #12
Taking one moment at a time can be challenging, especially when your mind is racing with more thoughts than you can count. With kids to take care of, a job to juggle, chores to get done, a relative to care for, appointments to keep, and finding time to squeeze in a good night's sleep, how can you possibly take one moment at a time? What does that even mean?
It means reminding yourself to focus on the here and now, to put one foot in front of the other, and breath. It means focusing on the lunch you are having with a friend, and not all the tasks you have to do later. It means concentrating on one work or school assignment at a time, and not getting caught up in every assignment that needs to be done. While this can certainly be challenging, it is an essential skill to practice in order to remain focused, calm, and feeling good.
We experience anxiety when we live in the future - when we think about tomorrow, next week, next year. Why? Because the future is unpredictable. While we can prepare and worry and plan, there is no way to 100% predict the future. All we can control is what we do in the present moment - not 30 minutes from now or later this evening, but right now. We often forget this, or refuse to believe this, and therefore resume our multitasking, only to realize it is overwhelming us, rather than calming and reassuring us.
By focusing on too many thoughts and events at once, we unfortunately lose the ability to truly enjoy any of them. We can spread our attention too thin, and miss out on precious moments we will never get back.
You may have experienced a lack of mindfulness when reading a book, getting to the end of a page, and thinking, "what did I just read? I don't remember a single word!"
If you are looking to remain more mindful and present in the moment, you are not alone. Here are three techniques you can practice anytime, anywhere, and as often as you'd like:
1.) Take a long, deep breath, in and out. Make sure your breaths cause your diaphragm to rise and fall, rather than your chest.
This ensures you are taking the deepest and most relaxing
breaths. By focusing on your breathing, you are allowing your
thoughts to slow, and your attention to be drawn to the present
2.) Choose a task to accomplish and say, "I will be accomplishing
this task, and this task only. If other thoughts or distractions
come my way, I will acknowledge them, but cast them aside. I
can return to them later. In this moment, I choose to be mindful,
productive, and calm."
3.) Look around the room you are currently in. What do you see,
hear, smell, feel, and taste? What is happening around you in
this very moment? What do you notice? This is a grounding
technique to help keep you present, and bring you back from
getting lost in worrisome thoughts.
Remember that self-talk is powerful. When you feel your thoughts beginning to get ahead of you, imagine holding up a big red stop sign. Then, slowly and repeatedly remind yourself, "I am practicing mindfulness. I will cast my worrisome thoughts aside and focus on what is directly in front of me. I will take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other, and accomplish one task at a time." Repeat this as often as you need.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
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