Anxiety is one of the most common reasons Australians see their doctor. If you’re feeling anxious and want some tools to help you reframe and refocus, meditation and mindfulness exercises could help.
Mindfulness is a state of impartial awareness, where you’re able to acknowledge what is going on around you and your feelings about it, both emotional and physical, in a calm way.
The main components of mindfulness are:
When we become worried or stressed, or we have to deal with a threat, certain changes happen in our body. These changes are known as the fight or flight response. This response is designed to prepare our body for stressful demands, and to switch off those bodily responses not required in such stressful circumstances.
Once the danger has passed, the body returns to normal. However, when we suffer from an anxiety disorder, the fight or flight response could be activated many times a day.
One of the key aspects of the fight or flight response is increased breathing rate (respiration). Increase in respiration is necessary to the fight or flight response, but when a depressed or anxious person experiences the fight or flight response over and over again, a state of 'over-breathing' results.
Over-breathing occurs when a person is breathing more often and more quickly than their body requires. This leads to a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide and an increase in the level of oxygen in the blood. If this imbalance occurs for too long, this can cause narrowing of blood vessels and difficulty releasing oxygen into the cells of the body, leading to symptoms such as tingling sensations or dizziness.
In order to control over-breathing, breathe through your nose, keep your mouth closed, and slow your rate of breathing.
Try a guided breathing exercise
According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2009), the key to unlocking meaning, creativity and optimal experiences in one’s life is through a highly focused mental state called 'flow'.
Flow is a state of mind that allows information into your consciousness and completely opens up and immerses you into the feeling of full, rich engagement into a creative and pleasurable activity. Through the state of flow, a person can unlock their potential and significantly improve their quality of life.
Getting into the flow state is a skill, and there are specific practices that will help you to attain it. The more you practise the more you achieve your own flow state. One of the ways to strengthen your ability to get into flow is through meditation. Meditation helps you to enhance your attentional focus, and thus can increase your ability to stay fully immersed in a state of flow during creative or pleasurable activities. Additionally, once you become more experienced, you may get into flow during meditation itself.
Try a guided meditation exercise
As the largest private provider of mental health care in Australia, Ramsay Mental Health is dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of those we treat.
Our clinics offer a range of services designed to support mindfulness, including meditation. If you have been feeling anxious, our expert team can assist you in creating a plan to help get your mental health back on track.