21 Sep Back to “school”: how to cope with anxiety using mindfulness
Bye-bye holiday, hello routine
Summer is almost over, which means it’s time to change our relaxing afternoons at the beach for extracurricular activities, last-minute shopping and other routine –not to mention boring- tasks. For lots of people, going back to their normal day-to-day after being on holidays can be quite stressful, leading to irritability, apathy or even insomnia in some cases, and it’s no surprise! Imagining the long list of emails that awaits us in the office or thinking about the traffic jam after we pick the kids up from school is enough to ruin our last days of holiday.
It’s very common in today’s society to be doing one thing while we’re actually thinking about something totally different. Maybe it’s your last day of holidays and, instead of enjoying it with all your senses by truly savouring that tasty ice cream, feeling the waves on your skin or appreciating the beauty of the landscape, you find yourself mentally organizing everything you have to do the next day. What if we told you that going restarting your routine wouldn’t be so complicated if you lived more aware and meditated regularly? Would you believe us?
If we analyse the meaning of anxiety, we would realize that it’s all about worrying and feeling nervous about something we don’t know the outcome of. What if, instead of constantly worrying about what might –or not- happen, we focus on what’s happening right now? Would we be happier? According to experts, yes!
“Live in the moment”. Yes but, how?
A piece of advice we hear repeatedly when we’re worrying about something is “live in the moment”. Easier said than done, right? If we don’t have the tools to practice it, how can we master that skill? That’s precisely the aim of the 8-week course designed by the doctor in molecular biology Jon Kabat-Zinn, to address issues and offer specific exercises to develop awareness.
Mindfulness has become very trendy over the past few years, but its roots are traced way back to Buddhism. That being said, it has nothing to do with religion, but a state in which we pay attention to thoughts, feelings and emotions. These thoughts may be nice or not, but we have to pay attention to them without judgement.
Instead of trying to “live in the moment” and end up frustrated when we can’t stop thinking about everything that’s on our mind, it would be more productive to be aware of the thoughts that are making us anxious. That way, we’ll be able to deal with them and let them go.
Saying goodbye to anxiety with mindfulness and meditation
If going back to work, start taking your kids back to their extracurricular activities or any other aspect of your day-to-day is causing you anxiety, an 8-week mindfulness course might be exactly what you need!
Buddhist monks have known for centuries that meditation reduces anxiety, but nowadays there are even scientific studies to prove it. During a study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in the United States, they selected 15 healthy volunteers with normal levels of daily anxiety, taught them mindfulness and how to focus on breathing and body sensation, evaluating thoughts and emotions that could distract them without judgment. The results were amazing! Most participants reported a decrease in anxiety levels, proving that mindfulness-based stress reduction programs are truly effective.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn himself stated that participants feel a strong improvement during the 8-week course, both regarding medical and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, stress and depression. These improvements are noticeable for most participants in each class and regardless of their diagnosis, which means that the programme can be a great option for people with a wide range of medical conditions and different situations.
Who can benefit from a mindfulness course?
That’s an easy question: everyone! If you meditate regularly, you’ve probably already experienced a great change in your wellbeing, but mindfulness goes one step further, as it combines meditation and yoga. By practicing yoga, we stimulate the strength of our muscles and bones, as well as improving flexibility, balance and inner stillness.
At Activate Sports Club we understand health as a comprehensive concept, not just body, but also mind. That’s why we think that an 8-week mindfulness course is a great option for anyone who is looking for a way to lead a healthy lifestyle.