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In an era dominated by mental health awareness, there are plenty of strategies, resources, and tips on reducing anxiety, especially anxiety in the workplace. While different techniques usually yield varying results, few coping mechanisms are universally effective - one of those is mindfulness.
Mindfulness, in this context, refers to the ability to purposefully and non-judgmentally tune into the sensory experiences of the outside world instead of ruminating and engaging the fast-paced thoughts in our head. This, for example, could include tuning into the physical sensations you experience in each part of your body or what you hear, smell, and see when you walk into work every day.
Here’s how this practice can help with reducing anxiety.
Mindfulness reduces overthinking
One of the biggest contributors to anxiety is the overthinking that we engage in over the small things. This is where we poke and prod our thoughts, twisting relatively harmless events or occurrences into blown-out catastrophes.
In the context of mindfulness, this is what is known as absentmindedness; i.e. when you fail to engage with your reality as it is because you’re too busy ruminating or worrying.
Naturally, this can lead to anxiety because many of us tend to dwell on the unpleasant or negative aspects of our lives or the things we want to change or escape from, instead of focusing on the positive.
Mindfulness is useful with reducing anxiety because it removes us from the catastrophising, ruminating, and overthinking we do on a daily basis and helps us engage with what’s directly in front of us.
Often, this turns out to be less daunting than we make it out to be in our minds.
Mindful practices help you realise that you’re not the centre of the universe
Another way in which mindfulness assists with reducing anxiety is that it helps us realise that we’re not the centre of the universe.
When we lack self-awareness and emotional intelligence, it’s easy to project our own fears and insecurities onto other people or assume that they’re judging us for the things we do.
In reality, no one really thinks about us as much as we think they do. Mindfulness helps us understand that people are consumed by their own lives, thoughts, and emotions and that we’re really just a supporting character in their existence.
This can be very comforting for someone who struggles with anxiety and believes people judge them for everything they do.
It also helps us become more accepting of ourselves and our emotions
Those who struggle with reducing anxiety know that it’s easy to feel like they’re never good enough.
One of the finest things about mindfulness is that it helps you become more accepting of your feelings and non-judgmental about the things you experience. You not only allow yourself to feel sad or worried or stressed but you also accept those feelings for what they are and don’t berate yourself for feeling them.
This, in turn, reduces our resistance to the negative things that happen around us and our reactions to them. When we’re able to accept things as they are, even the most unpleasant experiences, emotions, and events, it becomes easier to process them and move on.
Imagine it like this, when you’re caught in a rip current, resisting it makes it all the more likely that you wear yourself out or even drown. When you stop resisting and allow yourself to be pulled in, it’s only then that you’re able to swim back safely to shore.
Mindfulness helps us identify what we’re experiencing and why
Because mindfulness is all about being, well, mindful, it helps you tune into yourself without becoming self-absorbed. Over time, this helps you acknowledge your reaction to certain things and why you react that way.
For someone struggling with reducing anxiety, this type of self-awareness can be immensely helpful because it helps them retain what’s useful and gently and patiently try to change negative reactions.
In this way, mindful practises help people cope with the anxiety of day-to-day life more constructively without digging themselves deeper.
Mindfulness may be the key to reducing anxiety
Anxiety is a condition that affects approximately one in four people at some stage of their lives. Reducing anxiety, therefore, is gradually becoming a national pastime.
Mindful practises are incredibly useful, in this process, because they help people reduce their negative thoughts and practise meaningful self-compassion. For resources dedicated to reducing anxiety in the workplace through mindfulness, explore Awakened Mind’s app and training programmes.