Has it felt to you as if the world has been spinning out of control? Has the uncertainty of life sparked feelings of anxiety and overwhelm?
If you’ve been feeling a little (or a lot) off-kilter in recent days, months, or years, you are most certainly not alone. Shifts are happening in the world that easily exacerbate feelings of uncertainty. Whether we have experienced unsettling losses and changes or have been entranced by anticipation of such expected events, the anxiety of the unknown future can lead us to feeling lost, fearful, and overwhelmed by life.
Despite the pull of the mind during these times, it is possible to learn ways of effectively navigating any anxiety and overwhelm we might be feeling. Through mindfulness practice, we enhance our awareness of the contents of our thoughts. This awareness reduces the propensity for us to become swept up in our thoughts while also enhancing our sense of non-judgmental present moment awareness.
Four Practices for Easing Anxiety and Overwhelm
Mindfulness might not solve all of the world’s problems, but that’s not where it’s power rests. Mindfulness practice first and foremost shifts our personal response to the world, enabling us to feel more grounded amidst life’s waves.
Through simple mindfulness techniques, we start to shift our attention away from the pull of racing thoughts and into the present moment. These simple but powerful practices can assist you in finding that sense of calm, ease, and centeredness.
Connect with the earth.
Take a moment to find a safe and comfortable place to rest upon the earth. You can sit or lie down; whatever is most comfortable to you. Take this time to simply notice your connection to the physical world. Then, with eyes closed, open your senses to any sounds, smells, and felt sensations that arise from the world around you. If the mind wanders into anxious thoughts, simply note this movement with compassion and tenderness before returning your attention to the simplicity of this present moment. You are here. You are only ever right here.
Practice belly breathing.
Belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is a breathing technique that helps to initiate the body’s relaxation response and ease anxiety. Amidst uncertainty and chaos, we can find space and time to rest on our backs, place our hands on our belly, and start to see if we can breathe so that the stomach rises and falls with each cycle. This might be challenging at first, so take your time with it. Imagine as if there is a balloon in your belly that inflates and deflates with each breath you take. Breathe this way for 3-5 minutes and then note any changes in mind or body.
Repeat an affirmation that embodies peace.
Sometimes what we need most is our own words of love and encouragement. So, take a moment to find a quiet place to sit down and close your eyes for a few minutes. In the quiet spaciousness of your mind, begin to repeat an affirmation that brings you a sense of peace. Experiment with different affirmations, letting your heartfelt intuition guide you to the words you most need to hear.
SAMPLE AFFIRMATIONS FOR EASING ANXIETY
- I am capable of overcoming all obstacles.
- I find support from within and around me.
- I am present, grounded, and centered.
- I inhale peace and exhale fear.
- This too shall pass.
Lastly, during times of uncertainty and fear of the future it is not uncommon for us to compound our suffering by being judgmental or unkind towards ourselves. Take this time to tend to yourself as if the person experiencing what you’re feeling now was a loved one, a pet, or a young child. How would you speak to this person if they were feeling anxious and uncertain? How would you care for them? Offer yourself this same degree of tenderness and compassion to yourself. You deserve this loving kindness – this self-compassion – as much as any other being on this earth.
Coming Back to Peace Again and Again
So long as we are here on this earth, life will be unpredictable. Despite how much the mind might wish to control the future, it doesn’t have that power. Yet, in any moment, we can cultivate the peace and presence that lives within us. By coming back to the silence and spaciousness within – again and again – we start to realize that it is indeed possible to find our inner peace amidst the currents of this dance called life.
Written by Gillian Florence Sanger.
Gillian Florence Sanger is a writer and meditation practitioner with a deep interest in the mysteries of the human psyche. She is a contributing writer for MindfulnessExercises.com.