A Short Mindfulness Exercise for Anxiety With Robert Hindman, PhDJun 14, 2021
Hi, my name is Rob Heineman and I'm a clinical psychologist at the Back Institute. We are a non-profit organization with a mission to improve lives around the world through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, and we do this through a combination of therapist training and CBT. as well as doing it ourselves with clients that come to our clinic and one of the things that we've been seeing lately and hopefully is clients being very anxious about the current Cova 19 pandemic when clients have been coming to the great. have been dealing with worry and we think of worry as a coping strategy not necessarily a useful coping strategy because it's something a lot of us do when there's a little bit of uncertainty so when you don't know for sure what's going to happen when things I know it seems like you know in the air, we face it by thinking about all the possible bad things that can happen, but with worry, you never come to a solution and when you think about it, you're not really doing anything.
So the reason people worry in the first place is that we have beliefs about worry mainly that it's helpful in some way, so we can believe that if I think about all these potential catastrophic scenarios that I'll find an answer and I I'll feel better, be prepared, or prevent any kind of dangerous thing from happening, but then again, when we're just thinking about it, we're not taking action and nothing's actually happening, all that's happening is that we're stoking our
anxietybecause our body has no idea if what we are thinking is actually in front of us right now or if it is just a thought, so even when you are thinking about these terrible things that are happening, your body is going to respond with
anxietybecause anxiety is just energy for a challenge so one piece of advice that I have been teaching my clients is something called
mindfulnessis only when you're aware of what's happening here now in the present moment and you're aware of that and a non-judgmental and accepting way, so what happens is a customer can read the latest news about the Cova 19 pandemic and then You start thinking about how this will affect them, how it will affect their lives, which creates a lot of anxiety. but you can choose whether or not you want to keep worrying or if you want to shift the focus to something else that isn't as threatening so i thought we could do a mindfulness
exercisenow a lot of people learn mindfulness through yoga where it's a lot of focusing on the breath so I thought I'd do something a little different where it's focusing on something visually in front of you because you're watching the video what I'm going to do is just get out of the way and I could just get you to focus on what's there behind me in my office, since it's a bunch of different objects before we get into this.
However I want you to start worrying so I'm going to instruct you to worry because that's going to help us test you some beliefs about worry as well so I'm going to step aside here and what I want you to do is have your eyes on what you're seeing in my office, but I want your real focus to be on Caring as much as what happens on a day-to-day basis when you're doing something, but realize you're really in your head. what's going on in the world right now, so make this work for a bit now. I want you to take note of how anxious you feel. have you ever felt in your life it is not what i want you to do i want you to switch your attention only to what is in front of you what you are looking at right now so look at the different objects in my office focus on the colors the shapes maybe noticing how the light shines against some of them just putting your full attention on what you are looking at in front of you as you do this you will notice that their minds are going to be doing a lot of different things a lot of different thoughts will come up and every time you find yourself stuck in thoughts just notice what happened and then gently bring your focus back to what you are seeing in front of you in my office. you are looking in front of you you will notice different thoughts in the back of your mind all you have to do is let them linger in the back of your mind where your main focus is on what you are seeing letting those thoughts just come and go on their own no trying to interfere with them at all and no need to criticize yourself for mind wandering or getting caught up in thoughts because that's just a normal experience, just take note when it happens each time it happens and then just gently move that focus back into what you're seeing in front of you so I want you to make another mental note of how intense your anxiety is right now and we can end the
exerciseso you know what kinds of things you're doing that first what happened to the anxiety then, what generally happens to anxiety is that it decreases and the goal of the exercise is not to force anxiety or try to eliminate it, anxiety will be proportional to what you are focusing on ok, so when you're focusing on all these catastrophes you're going to feel anxious because your body is responding when you focus on what's happening here and now as well as my office as long as it's not threatening the anxiety will naturally fade because it's no longer Another thing to consider is if you could do that to notice that worry at first and then let it go because another belief about worry that keeps it going is the belief that it's uncontrollable now that we can't control the thoughts. that pop up in our minds, but what we can control is how we respond to them, so whenever you find yourself stuck with worried thoughts about the current pandemic, what you can do is simply realize that they have happened and then, instead of thinking more on them, just refocus on whatever's in front of you, so if you're at home watching Netflix, which is a common thing right now, just go back to watching whatever's on TV If you're having a conversation with your family, you might notice a tension building, you just notice what happened, and then you have the ability to refocus on what's in front of you just by noticing visually what's happening, so I hope this is a good quick tip that was helpful that you can put into action so that whenever you notice your mind is in this worrying process, you have the ability to redirect back to what's happening here, here, and now as a way out of this worry so hope you find this so helpful and take care
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