Thanks so much to everyone who read my last blogpost on what it's really like to live with anxiety. I hope it's given you some insight and understanding into the condition. If you haven't yet read it, you can do so HERE.
I mentioned in the post that I try to deal with stress in a natural way.
One of the things I've been practicing over the last year has been mindfulness, which has been proven to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. In the most simple of terms, mindfulness means being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. I spoke in a previous blog post about "living in the now" so to not have any regrets (see HERE); mindfulness is exactly that. It is not a behavior to help you completely forget whatever strains or stresses you may have in your life at present; it simply means pushing them aside and allowing yourself to be present in this moment. As more people are more aware of the unpleasant side effects of medication, mindfulness has really taken off.
I expected mindfulness to be really complex; and it can be if you over think it too much. But it's best to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to practicing it. I should mention here that it requires practice; not loads but if the thought of sitting still makes you anxious, it does require practice. There is no 'perfect' way to do mindfulness either. You don't need to do a course, you don't need to fork out lots of money to be trained in how to do it (contrary to what you may think). I'm not an expert in this field by any means, so what works for me might not work for you, but this is just what I do and what helps me.
I find it easier to engage in mindfulness when I am looking at a pretty view. When I was in Ireland, I was never too far away from a beach when I was in college or at home, but since I've moved to England I'm nowhere near a beach unfortunately but the local Bitts Park does the job just as well. Obviously, the weather isn't great most of the time but a week or so ago the weather was lovely and sunny so I decided to head there to practice my mindfulness.
I sat on a bench overlooking the river and switched off my phone. I focused on the reflections the trees made on the river, how serene the view was. Even though I have quite an irrational fear of water, I like to look at it. I find it very peaceful. I focused on the clouds drifting by, the different shapes created in the sky, off setted by the very rarely seen sun.
I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, feeling the cool air drift in and out of my body. Inhale the good thoughts, exhale the not so good thoughts.
I immediately felt calm after my mindfulness session. It truly is amazing what some simple breathing techniques can do.
I decided to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk down by the river. I focused on my breathing, in and out slowly. I walked slowly and carefully, being aware of each step I took and the sound my footsteps made on the earth. I noticed the things around me. I listened to the birds singing in the sky and in the trees. I looked at the buds starting to appear on the trees and the grass nestled in near the river. I heard the children laughing near the river.
Being a blogger and writer, everything I see can be inspiration for my blog or diary, which I guess isn't a bad thing, but it does cause me to become quite distracted. I reined it in and got back to the present moment. I didn't look at my watch or my phone for a while. Instead, I continued to be in the now.
I observed at nature as I walked around. The daffodils in bloom near the river, their bright petals fluttering in the wind.
Some people may say mindfulness is too simplistic, but it should be. It does take time to become accustomed to it, when I first tried it I wasn't sure whether it was for me or not, as I had all these slightly skewed misconceptions about it.
I find the benefits of mindfulness to be invaluable. From less than an hour of practicing in the park, I felt in a better mood, more calm and definitely less stressed. For that reason I'd definitely recommend you all to give it a go.
Thanks for reading guys xxx
All photographs taken in this blogpost are of Bitts Park, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK. They were all taken by myself using my iPhone 5S phone (no filter used).