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How to Use Mindfulness to Calm a Sea of Anxiety

Stressful days can mess with our sanity and trigger anxious thoughts. We irritate easily, get antsy, and start feeling overwhelmed. But mindfulness helps us stay grounded and go through challenging situations with ease.

Here are ways to use mindfulness to help with anxiety.

Observe Your Feelings

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Mindfulness can make you more observant of your feelings and allow you to notice them without feeling so overwhelmed by them. If you can take a moment to identify with the anxious feelings, you may be able to notice that while you are having this feeling, you are not your feelings. Anxious thoughts reduce when you can see that it's just a feeling and thoughts that have nothing to do with the essence of your being.

Gain Distance From Overwhelming Thoughts

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Mindfulness offers space for new, positive thoughts so your immediate thoughts aren't overbearing. It takes a lot of practice, but noticing thoughts without immediately acting upon them gives you distance and opens up curiosity.

Retrain Your Mind

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Mindfulness practiced regularly through meditation or having more awareness of the present moment retrains your brain to slow down. It takes time, but it makes a big difference over the long run. 

Practice Being Present 

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Anxiety can take your mind on a wild ride, but mindfulness is the anchor that brings your mind back to the immediate situation and helps it focus on what's happening at the moment.

Concentrate on One Thing at a Time

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When anxiety flares up it can set your mind racing. If you can slow down and try to break down tasks into single things you can concentrate on this mindfulness will help you center your mind.

Release the Critic

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Anxiety is a painful experience. Even worse is that it paves the way for self-critical thoughts. These judgments may make you even more anxious. Mindfulness is noticing those thoughts and then letting them go.

When you notice self-critical thoughts, you can say to yourself, “Okay, I'm frustrated, and part of me thinks that criticizing myself will help. I'm allowed to stop criticizing myself. I'm allowed to be imperfect and growing, that's what it is to be human.”

Practice Listening

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Listen! Mindfulness allows you to listen amidst the storm. It will enable you to be intentional with what happens around you. Listen to the kids playing, the wind blowing, or the conversations people try to have with you. Anxiety makes it almost impossible to listen, but practicing mindfulness keeps stress in check and allows you to listen.

Make Friends With Your Body

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Practice checking in on how your body and emotional state feel at any given moment. It's a reminder to focus on the here and now and get out of your head. When you are one with your body, you're present with your feelings.

Identify Your Triggers

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When you know your anxious triggers, you know how to deal with them so they don't affect you. For instance, if sitting in lonely places triggers your anxiety, mindfulness will encourage you not to sit alone so that anxious thoughts won't creep in.

Nurture Patience

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Anxiety and patience are not two things that go hand in hand, but mindfulness nurtures patience that helps you deal with anxiety. It allows you to work with your body and lets it automatically tap into patience when situations are stressful. 

Do a Reality Check

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Mindfulness allows you to see things for what they are because it helps you slow down. Anxiety puts fear in us, sometimes for things that haven't even happened. Mindfulness lets you examine your thoughts, find out if they are accurate, and put your mind at ease. It doesn't allow your brain to conjure up false, baseless thoughts.

Doodling Your Way to a Peaceful Mind

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Doodling doesn’t require special art skills and can be a powerful means of self-expression and gaining clarity. 

Presence and Mindfulness Journal Prompts

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Mindfulness journaling is a great way to focus your thoughts and feelings and get them down on paper.

Author: Alissa Zorn

Title: Trauma-Informed Coach

Expertise: childhood emotional neglect, perfectionism, parenting, journaling, comics, doodling, coaching

Alissa Zorn is the founder of OverthoughtThis.com. She's a trauma-informed coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa has been featured on the Good Men Project, Wealth of Geeks, Motherly, MSN.com and more.