Saturday, May 19, 2007

Using mindfulness to cope effectively with stress, panic attacks and anxiety

Like A Man - a guide to men's emotional wellbeing (Edited extract): Mindfulness is a valuable tool which you can use to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, stress and other symptoms.

When you are mindful you are aware of what is going on in reality in the present moment. So, you might be aware of traffic, rain, another person’s voice or your own breathing. A key aspect of mindfulness is that you don't get lost in a conversation in your head. Every time your mind wanders off into a mental conversation, just return to awareness of the present moment, without criticising yourself. That last point is important: while you are being mindful, you withhold your judgement as to whether this or that is good or bad. So instead of condemning the traffic or the rain or approving of the sunshine or the blue sky, you just notice them.
Mindfulness helps you to avoid falling into old patterns of reacting. It helps you to see new possibilities. It puts you in touch with your own experience. Here is an exercise you can do to get yourself into mindfulness mode:

From time to time, notice your breathing.

Notice whether you are taking a long breath or a short breath.

Notice the little pause at the end of each breath.

Notice that the air is cooler entering your nostrils than leaving.

Notice your posture.

Notice the length of your spine.

Notice your feet against the floor or the ground.

Notice your clothes touching your body.

Notice the sounds around you and far way from you without getting involved with them.

Every time you drift into thinking, just return to noticing your body.

This exercise need only take a minute or so to do but if you use it every day it can have a profound effect on your life experience.....

Edited extract from Panic Attacks: Reclaiming your life in Padraig O'Morain's book Like A Man - A guide to men's emotional well-being (Veritas, 2007).

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