By MELINDA WILLIAMS
How often are you stuck in your head? Do you find yourself constantly considering the future, spiraling into worry over “What ifs?”
If so, do you notice how this affects your body?
Here are some of the typical things you might experience: a feeling of restlessness, being on edge, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
These are the common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Many people feel anxious on occasion, especially during times of stress. In some cases, anxiety can be beneficial; think “fight or flight.”
However, when excessive and uncontrolled worry interferes with and negatively impacts your daily life, you may be experiencing clinical anxiety.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans.
Sometimes, you may experience intense worry as panic, begin to sweat, have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or shaking.
Is there a tool, a long-term solution, you can employ to decrease anxiety-related symptoms?
How about establishing a daily mindfulness practice? This may be the perfect place to start.
The idea is to avoid suppressing, ignoring or distracting from strong emotions; rather, the goal is to learn to be present in the moment where the pain (i.e., anxiety, panic) resides, to cultivate awareness on the breath, your senses and any accompanying physical sensations.
From this seat of awareness, can you be free of judgment, of yourself and others? Can you avoid attachment to permanence, knowing this, too, shall pass?
Mindfulness is extremely challenging, yet rewarding, work; it requires sustained personal effort and disciplined practice.
By learning to ride the waves of painful emotions and staying grounded in the midst of upheaval, one can begin the process of living more fully in the present.
Once you routinely recognize and are able to sit with anxious thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, then the next time, perhaps, their impact will be diminished. Radical acceptance of an impermanent reality will help you break the chains of anxiety and obsessive “what if” cognitions, to be free to live a present, joyful life.
Williams has a master of education degree, is a licensed professional counselor and a certified yoga therapist. She is currently employed as a clinician at Century Health. If you have a mental health question, please send it to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay 45839.