6 Ways to Mindfully Calm Your AnxietyBy Dr. Danielle Dowling
Life is full, and it can move fast. No matter who you are, I would guess that statement is true for you too. Sometimes that fast-paced fullness can feel exhilarating, but on a consistent basis, it feels more like stress. That stress can cause pretty intense and challenging emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, and loneliness, to name a few.
While life will most likely always be fast-paced and full, it doesn’t have to be as rough as it feels when you are struggling with anxiety. The key to transcending the overwhelming emotions that fuel your anxiety is mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm your stress and soothe yourself in moments where you find yourself panic-stricken. And as overwhelming as it may feel, you can choose to stop playing into the fear-based stories your mind is circulating, and instead make space to step back, reflect, and thoughtfully respond—rather than react.
Here are 6 steps to help you acknowledge, understand, and transform worrisome emotions in a mindful way.
1. Accept Your Emotions
Emotions demand to be felt. Many of us try to avoid negative emotions by ignoring them. But the only way they will go away fully is if you acknowledge and accept that they were there in the first place.
Ignoring something that wants to be seen will only cause it to bubble up and explode later, creating more intense feelings or causing a complete emotional shutdown.
Extend yourself the same kindness you would to an overwhelmed friend. Learn to listen to yourself when you are afraid or upset, without the judgment or the need to “fix.”
To become more aware of the emotion you are feeling, notice where it lives in your physical body. You might feel your anxiety as a stomachache, shallow breaths, or muscle tension. Don’t ignore or push away the sensations that arise.
Your emotions are always trying to show you something that is going on inside (and perhaps outside) of you. Mindful acceptance of your anxiety allows you take an honest look at yourself and your life, with greater self-understanding and compassion.
2. Name Your Emotions
A simple place to start—once you have acknowledged the initial feeling—is asking yourself questions such as, “Am I feeling sad? Ashamed? Angry or resentful?”
It's important to remember that although you are labeling your emotion, YOU are not that emotion. It’s the difference between “I am angry” and “I am FEELING angry.” The first is tied to your identity, while the other is only a passing feeling.