Experiencing anxiety is normal, be it at work or at home. While most of the companies are working towards creating a culture of wellbeing and support for their employees, as an individual we can develop our own coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety.
Stefan Hofmann, a professor of psychology at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, combined results of 39 previous studies and concluded that mindfulness therapy was effective for relieving anxiety and improving mood.
So how does Mindfulness work?
Scientists have used MRI scan to study the changes in our brain when we practice mindfulness. Results show that, practicing mindfulness shirks grey matters in our brain’s amygdala - region responsible for our stress response, while the grey matter in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex becomes thicker. The studies suggest that mindfulness-based intervention is promising for managing anxiety and stress.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the technique of focusing our attention on what is happening in the present moment without being judgmental.
Practicing mindfulness will not come naturally to us, especially in our fast-paced life where the demands are high, and we thrive on multi-tasking.
We can start to cultivate mindfulness in our daily lives by intentionally pausing to remind ourselves to be present in the moment, being mindfully present in the conversations we have, mindfully eating by chewing the food and savouring the taste, mindfully engaging in activities and relishing them.
While it may take some persistent effort to make mindfulness a habit, here is a simple activity that can be incorporated into any part of our daily routine: “Draw your breathe”
This is a creative yet very accessible mindful activity that helps to bring our attention to our breath and the present moment. I have found the process of slow mark making using pen and paper while syncing our breath to the flow of lines, helpful to keep our focus on the present also to relax and destress.
How to "Draw your Breath"?
Grab a pencil/ pen and paper.
Close your eyes and take few deep breaths.
Bring you focus to your breath. Feel the air in your nose as you inhale and exhale.
Open your eyes, as you inhale draw a line moving upward and as you exhale draw a downward line.
Repeat the process.
As you draw, be aware of your thoughts.
Bring your attention gently back to your breath as they may divert elsewhere.
Do give it a try and pay attention to your breathing to find out if your breathing is shallow or deep, fast or slow, or even or irregular? I would love to hear your thoughts. Remember, there is no right or wrong here!