Taking a step back – Self Awareness

Whenever I reach out inward, by taking a step back for a moment, I see things very differently from what I have in the go-go-go mode.

Just sitting in a chair or couch works best for me to do this mental exercise of self awareness. I then stay in a state of curiosity. This helps me slow down to get into a relaxed mode. Believing in myself helps me in this state, whatever the state I’m in. Then I explore how I feel, what thoughts cross my mind and bring in some kindness to myself to stay gentle in the whole self awareness process. I tend to do this at least twice a week at peak stress days as part of self care to check in with myself and know I can slow down to be aware of my reactions.

What this reveals is a beautiful picture of my day and my reactions to the various happenings. This in turn helps me write out my process recordings with my supervisor in an authentic fashion and process any anomalous reactions in my mind with openness and curiosity. I slowly realized in this field that curiosity about myself and my environment along with critical thinking alone will help me bring a better work – life balance.

Thanks for reading my process for self awareness !

Best,

Shrivi

Breaking the myths behind Mindfulness practice for the benefit of Trauma Survivors

1. Don’t need to close your eyes during mindfulness meditation.

2. Don’t need to sit still to do mindfulness meditation.

3. Staying present in the moment non-judgmentally, even while walking, eating or working, is what is truly being mindful.

4. Don’t need to shut off your mind as your brain is always going to be active, especially with a trauma history.

5. Don’t need to focus on your breath. Trauma victims find this especially triggering with unpredictable outcomes.

6. Mindfulness meditation is not for quick turnaround of results.

7. Mindfulness meditation is not for everyone!

Using Mindfulness to Treat Anxiety Disorders

[Credits] : George Hoffman

An anxiety disorder is much more than being very nervous or edgy.

An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.

Anxiety is also known for producing noticeable physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. In General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) the symptoms become so severe that normal daily functioning becomes impossible.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy theorizes that in anxiety disorders, the patient overestimates the danger of disruptive events in his life, and underestimates his ability to cope. CBT attempts to replace maladaptive thinking by examining the patient’s distorted thinking and resetting the fight-or-flight response with more reasonable, accurate ones.

The anxious person and the therapist work to actively change thought patterns.

In contrast, instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts.

In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, fully realizing the experience of anxiety enables anxious people to release their over identification with negative thoughts. The person practices responding to disruptive thoughts, and letting these thoughts go.

By remaining present in the body, they learn that the anxiety they experience is merely a reaction to perceived threats. By positively responding to threatening events instead of being reactive they can overcome an erroneous fight-or-flight response.

At the University of Bergen in Norway, Vollestad, Nielsen, and Nielsen surveyed 19 studies of the effectiveness of MBTs on anxiety. They found that MBTs are associated with robust and substantial reductions of anxiety symptoms. MBTs proved as effective as CBT, and are generally less expensive.

The researchers also found that MBTs are successful in reducing symptoms ofdepression. This is especially important since major depressive disorder affects 20 to 40 percent of people with GAD and SAD.

The study finds the success of MBTs notable “given that these approaches put less emphasis on the removal of symptoms as such, and more emphasis on cultivating a different relationship to distressing thoughts, feelings, and behavioral impulses. It seems that this strategy paradoxically could lead to less distress.”

In other words, a way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety is to be fully, mindfully, anxious. As anxiety reveals itself to be a misperception, symptoms will dissipate.

Reference

Vollestad, Nielsen, and Nielsen (2011). Mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions for anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Easy To Remember 5-5-5 Breathing Exercise 

Love this simple breathing exercise when you don’t have the ability to think in the heat of the anxiety attack!

I’m no doctor but onetime when I was having a panic attackI made up the best breathing exercise for myself. If I am having a panic attack or on the verge of having one I always focus on my breathing. It definitelyhelps calmyou down. There are a lot of different breathing exercises out there but I had a hard time remembering them whenI was in the middle of losing myshit while having a panic attack.

That ishow I came up with the 5-5-5 method. At the time I was like what the hell am I supposed to be doing? Inhale for how many seconds? Hold it for what? Then exhale for how long? I know the 4-7-8 method is popular but when I was freaking out I couldn’t remember if it was 4-7-8, 8-7-4 or 7-4-8. I washaving anxietyabout remembering it while having a panic attack.

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