We are practically living in a society which fosters anxiety and the result is that today anxiety has become a widespread problem. We worry about trivial things and become anxious easily. As mentioned in other blogs written by the author, anxiety can be detrimental to our well being. Mind and body are intertwined and there are serious consequences if we become too obsessed with mundane things, which may or may not happen but cause us to be sleepless and restless. Therefore, it is important to be aware of our mental status and monitor our thoughts periodically to see if these thoughts are leading to anxiety. The source of anxiety lies within our thought process and it is such an automatic process that sometimes we are not even aware of it, but it definitely triggers anxiety and restlessness. Worrier type people would imagine all sorts of scenarios in a given situation and jump to conclusion about events, people they interact with, and situations they are confronted with.
How do we cultivate an attitude which promotes happiness and make us worry free? By adopting a healthy life style, we can become anxiety free and also create happiness in our lives.
- Meditate on the Breath:
Meditation has been found to be extremely helpful in alleviating our anxiety about the past and future. Thoughts about the past and future tend to occupy our mind most of the time and they cause us to be restless. However, when we meditation on breath, it brings calmness to our mind and also allows us to concentrate better by letting go of the thoughts related to our past and future. Additionally, it simply brings our attention to the present moment. Breathe normally and naturally and try not to force your breath. Let your attention rest at your abdomen and be aware of the sensations in your body as the air enters and leaves. If you put your hand on the abdomen, you will notice that your abdomen rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. This happens when you breathe from the diaphragm. It is possible that extraneous thoughts will enter your mind and distract you. Simply be aware that your attention has wandered and gently, bring your attention back to the breath. Be aware of what is happening right now as you inhale and exhale and meditate for however long you wish.
2. Refrain from having too much focus on ‘Me’
All our problems stem from an attitude which is focused on ‘me’. When we have incredible attachment, we want to take care of ourselves. We live a life with a focus on we want this and we don’t want that. Everybody else comes second and I am more important. The fact is that over indulgence in self can be the source of our misery. The self centered attitude creates excessive worries and anxiety. It all happens inside our minds and the reality is that our worries have nothing to do with what is happening in our external world. It is our mind that looks for something to worry about. If the person becomes a habitual worrier, he will tend to find one thing or the other to worry about. If there is nothing to worry about, he will invent or create one situation to worry about. This is an example of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and also called free floating anxiety. How we view situation depends on our perceptions, interpretations, and descriptions of the situation to us. It is important to know that all our worries and anxieties come from our own minds and the external situations do not cause them.
The question is how do we deal with our minds when we become very self centered and anxious? Sense of humor has been found to be especially effective in easing our anxiety. Our mind is like a monkey jumping all over the place. If we can laugh at the monkey instead of taking it seriously, we can develop a sense of humor about our problems. Ability to laugh at our problems can minimize the intensity of worries and anxious thoughts. For some people, it is hard to laugh and use humor. Then adopting a rational attitude might be effective.
For example, look at the problem and ask yourself,” Can I do something about the problem at hand?” If something can be done about it, go ahead and do it and there is no need to waste time in idle worries. If nothing can be done about it and the situation cannot be altered, it is useless to worry about it. Just let it go and think about the serenity prayer which explains how useless it is to worry about things we cannot control and it is wise to accept these things.
Thus it is important to reduce our self centeredness and pay attention to others. Self centeredness gives rise to our anxiety so be consciously aware of the disadvantages of self preoccupation, then it will be easier to let go of it. As soon as you catch yourself being self centered, ask yourself, “How can I view this situation?” Adopt a broader perspective which includes the wishes and needs of others also. This helps in giving you the energy and also develops a kind heart towards them. Be open minded and then it will become possible to let go of the self centered attitude and ease your anxiety too. When your heart is filled with genuine kindness toward others, it is impossible to be anxious and depressed.
We can argue that we care about others for example our children and this causes us to have anxiety. However, this kind of caring is not the open heart loving kindness that we are discussing here. This kind of caring is limited to only a few people. How about extending this kindness to others also, like doing volunteer work for charity organizations, noble causes, helping the poor and disadvantaged folks. If we train our minds to think broadly like this and expand our horizon from” Me” type of thinking, we will be able to ease our anxiety and stress. If we can meditate on kindness to others, it will reduce our misery and anxiety.
3. Meditate on the Kindness of others:
Gratitude and thankfulness for those who have helped you is another way you can reduce the intensity of your anxiety. Sometimes we take others for granted and do not appreciate what they have given to us. We are the recipients of love and kindness from others but we fail to recognize them and do not appreciate their act of kindness. Think about the kindness of your friends and relatives, who have helped you in your times of crisis. Start with your mother who took care of you when you were an infant. Your teachers, who taught you the language and speech and imparted you the education which is helping you earn a living now. Then think about the kindness you have received from strangers, people you do not even know. Architects, engineers, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, painters and builders, all have contributed in some ways so that we can live with comfort. How many times do we offer our gratitude to them? It is very important to be grateful to others for how they have helped you. This practice will help you recognize that you should not live just for yourself and be able to offer help to others too. This attitude will create happiness. Wrier has written a blog on happiness, entitled, “Are You looking For Happiness? Don’t despair” and I would recommend the readers to read it for more details on this concept.
4. Reflect on the Negative Experiences of your life:
Everyone has experienced some setbacks in life. It is important to recognize how these experiences have helped you shape your lives and give you a new direction. Sometimes painful experiences teach a lesson and we grow from them. Bad events also can be beneficial to us and we must learn from them. Ego strength can be developed from these setbacks even though initially, you suffer from pain. Gold has to endure tremendous amount of heat before it can be shaped in a beautiful jewelry. In the long run, these setbacks can be very beneficial for us. So every time you have a problem and you find yourself worrying about them, do not worry. Instead, reflect on them from a broader perspective. Think that this problem might teach you something in life in the long run. This practice will ultimately lessen your anxious thoughts and consequently make you more relaxed about your problems. Afterall, worries never solve the problems, actions do.
5. Appreciate the kindness of others:
When we are in the middle of encountering the problem, we feel that no one is helping us and we are alone. When we do the meditation on the kindness of others, we believe that we are not alone and others are with us too. This thought will be instrumental in alleviating your anxiety, in the long run. You will not feel stuck and alone in your problem because you will realize and appreciate how others have been helpful to you. This will help generate the love and compassion for others. These are positive feelings and they are incompatible with anxiety and worry.
Thus the important message is that we need to be more altruistic in our approach in order to be happy and anxiety free .The more we have the attitude of self centeredness, the more we are risking ourselves to become anxiety prone. Once we learn to dissolve our egos, it becomes easier to adopt an altruistic and pragmatic attitude and thus contribute to the society we live in.
Hypnosis can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Please visit our Blossom Hypnotherapy page to learn how hypnosis can help reduce symptoms of Anxiety disorders.