Mindfulness and Anxiety

Have you heard about Mindfulness ? If not where have you been hiding, it’s all the rage and all the cool kids are doing it !

Mindfulness is a concept that the West has borrowed principally from Buddhist meditation practices, and has been popularised over the past 40 years in the west. One of the leading pioneers of mindfulness is Dr Jon Kabat Zinn, who applied the concept of mindfulness to combating stress and anxiety.

He created an eight week program called Mindfulness Based Stress Management (MBSR). Another similar course is called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. These programs have been researched scientifically and found to be very effective in helping to reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and even chronic pain.

 

So what exactly is Mindfulness.  Well in a nut shell, mindfulness is method of distancing ourselves from unhelpful thoughts and emotions. Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment , non-judgmentally”

The benefits of mindfulness includes ;

  • Reduced rumination or worrying
  • Stress reduction
  • Boosts working memory
  • Better focus
  • Less emotional reactivity
  • More cognitive flexibility

You can find out more about the benefits of mindfulness here … Mindfulness Benefits

There is a great TED Talk about Mindfulness here too

 

 

How can this help with anxiety ?

Well, the cause of anxiety are our thoughts. Now sometimes our anxiety is useful, and we as humans evolved to have anxiety to keep us safe from harm. However, sometimes our mind can indulge in worry too much and trigger our fight or flight response prematurely. This is akin to the smoke detector being activated in your kitchen by slightly burning some toast.

By learning to adopt a perspective of mindfulness to our thoughts and emotions, we can gradually become less reactive to them, so that we recognise that the issue is just burned toast, and not a real fire.

Getting started with Mindfulness

There are lots of apps around to learn mindfulness, such as Smiling Mind, however in my experience it is establishing a regular mindfulness practice that is the tricky bit. However there is a 4 week online course available for FREE from Monash University, called Mindfulness for Wellbeing & Peak Performance.  I will be doing this course over the next 4 weeks, and writing some posts about my experience, and I’d like to invite you to join me, and share your experiences.

Another option is to learn a couple of mindfulness techniques from singer-songwriter, Jewel ……. right here …. right now.

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Rich Thorpe is a Counselling & Coaching Psychologist, and an online counsellor at Newcastle University Counselling Service. His interests include Yoga, Martial Arts, Tennis, Bushwalking and getting up way to early to watch english premier league soccer.

The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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