How Effective is Mindfulness in Treating Anxiety Disorder?

For thousands of years, mindfulness meditation has helped to relax minds, and modern science confirms that it could be a beneficial aid in reducing anxiety.

People who suffer from anxiety are well aware of how profoundly the disorder can affect their daily lives, infiltrating everything from job to relationships to hobbies.

If you’re one of these people, it’s understandable that you’d want to do everything you can to keep your mind quiet and your anxieties at bay.

While the practise of mindfulness dates back thousands of years, it has only lately gained popularity in the wellness sector as a way to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Can mindfulness, on the other hand, help people better regulate their anxiety?

What is mindfulness, exactly?

According to Jo Howarth, mindfulness practitioner and founder of The Happiness Club, “mindfulness can be immensely powerful as a therapeutic technique since it entails becoming more consciously aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.” “Once we have a better understanding of all of those things, we can make whatever changes we want to make.”

Mindfulness can include the following activities:

  • Accepting how you are physically and emotionally in the current time
  • observing your surroundings and being aware of your own presence within them
  • not being swayed by memories of the past or the future
  • being nonjudgmental and nice to yourself and others

Is mindfulness a good way to deal with anxiety?

The underpinnings of anxiety are the same regardless of how it manifests.

“When we feel anxious, it’s almost as if we’re living in the future in our heads. We conjured up some sort of calamitous scenario‚Ķ “We’ve convinced ourselves that something bad is about to happen, so anxiety rises,” Howarth explains.

“Mindfulness allows us to return to the present moment and understand that none of that dreadful stuff is actually happening.”

Jezzard-Puyraud is in agreement. “You become an observer of your emotions” when you practise mindfulness, she explains.

“Instead of getting caught up in it and spiralling down, your’mindful observer’ takes a step back and says, ‘Hang on a minute, what’s going on here?’ ‘What is the root of my anxiety?’

As a result, it’s been introduced into Western psychiatric therapies throughout the last few decades through approaches including mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy, according to a 2017 study reviewTrusted Source.

While there is lots of anecdotal evidence that mindfulness can help with anxiety, science backs it up as well.

Scans found that practising mindfulness reduces the amount of neural activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that responds to stress, according to a 2015 study.

In addition, according to a tiny 2018 study, mindfulness may lower the levels of hormones that produce cortisol (the body’s stress chemical).

Mindfulness’s beneficial effects may also aid to alleviate symptoms of other illnesses. Various forms of mindfulness have been shown in studies to help reduce anxiety levels and symptoms of:

  • Anxiety disorder, generalised
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of obsessive-compul
  • a reliable source
  • fibromyalgia
  • cancerReliable Source
  • work-related concerns, athletic performance concerns, and mobile phone usage concerns

How can I lower my anxiety by practising mindfulness?

Mindfulness isn’t a “one size fits all” answer, like so many other things in life. Mindfulness can be practised in a variety of ways, and what works for one person may not work for another.

It’s all about experimenting with different ways to see what works best for you.

The following types of mindful meditation have been demonstrated to have beneficial impacts on stress reduction:

  • muscular relaxation that is progressive
  • scanning of the human body
  • strategies for deep breathing
  • examining your own thoughts

With practise and time, mindfulness gets easier. To get started, try these simple actions today.

Breathing exercises

“Our breathing is one of the most powerful instruments we have at our disposal,” says Howarth. “When you focus all of your attention on your breathing, you become entirely present and no longer exist in that imagined future.”

There are several strategies to attempt, and they can last as long as you like. Breath work can be a kind of anxiety-relieving mindfulness, but according to a 2017 study reviewTrusted Source, slowing down and regulating your breathing also engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which can help you relax.

Recognize your surroundings

Use regular activities to help you stay grounded in the here and now. Take, for example, an automobile trip.

“Turn off the radio and write down all you observe.” ‘Great tree,’ you could think, or’she’s wearing a nice coat.’ “Things like that,” Jezzard-Puynaud explains. “You’re paying attention and paying attention to what’s going on around you.” After a while, it becomes second nature.”

Scan of the human body

After just one session of virtual-led body scanning, participants noticed reduced tension and anxiety, according to a 2021 study with animalsTrusted Source.

Body scanning entails the person carefully moving up and down their body while noting different feelings. This simple step-by-step instruction will assist you in completing the task.

Participate in a guided session

It can be difficult for newbies to mindfulness (as well as seasoned practitioners) to settle their minds. However, listening to a guided session can assist you in getting your head in the correct place.

Muscle relaxation that is progressive

This full-body workout involves the person to gently engage and squeeze various muscles throughout the body before releasing and feeling them relax.

PMR, despite its simplicity, can have a significant impact: Patients who exercised PMR for 12 weeks reported a significant reduction in anxiety, according to a 2015 study.

Listening attentively

When was the last time you had a discussion with someone without being interrupted by a to-do list, Instagram, or your children? “Sit down and pay attention to what that individual is saying,” Jezzard-Puynaud advises.

If you have a favourite musician, you could try listening to their songs consciously, taking in the words, analysing their meaning, and noticing how they make you feel.

People who listened to music or nature sounds deliberately for 8 weeks had lower levels of anxiety and tension, according to a small 2020 study.

What’s the difference between meditation and mindfulness?

It’s easy to mix up these two notions because they have similar foundations and outcomes.

Meditation is an activity for which you set aside time, whereas mindfulness is something that becomes ingrained in your consciousness over time. Jezzard-Puyraud describes it as “a manner of existence, a way of being.”

There is, however, a point of convergence. “Meditation is an important aspect of the practise,” she adds. “When I teach people, we perform a lot of various types of meditations because everyone is different,” she says.

However, just because meditating isn’t for you doesn’t mean you can’t practise mindfulness. “Meditation can be a part of a mindfulness practise, but it isn’t required,” Howarth says.

Let’s go over everything again

Anecdotal evidence and scientific study both support the usefulness of mindfulness in reducing anxiety and stress levels of various severity and forms.

There are many simple strategies to begin adding mindfulness into your daily life, such as practising active listening or breathing exercises.

It’s crucial not to place too much pressure on oneself, regardless of how you approach mindfulness.

It may take some time and practise to become totally attentive, but you don’t have to master anything to get the advantages. According to a 2019 study, just 13 minutes per day could make an impact, although consistency over at least 6 to 8 weeks is required.

“The thing about mindfulness is that whatever you do to improve yourself is great,” Jezzard-Puynaud says. It is not necessary to do so every single minute of every single day. You’ll be OK as long as you can perform some of it at some point.”

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