Photo Credit: kaneda99
You've no doubt heard that meditation and breathing exercises can help you calm your anxiety, but if you're going through a bad patch the mere thought of stopping and sitting quietly with your mind can fill you with dread.
Often, all we want to do is escape from our minds and the thought of spending time in relaxation feels highly undesirable! We might get caught up in endless chores, games, TV shows, Facebook scanning, all to escape our thoughts - and sometimes we'll do it to the point of exhaustion.
While this may give some temporary relief via diversion, it's hard to maintain and it's the nature of the mind to keep pushing unwanted thoughts and fears back at us when we resist taking quiet time to rest and allow our thoughts to settle.
Why we need to stop
- If we don't stop, our body will do it for us. It may become exhausted, or come down with a cold or virus due to being strained by our over-exertion in trying to escape our thoughts.
When this happens anxiety can swamp us even more as we feel over-tired, unwell and unable to escape.
Three ways to stop and feel good about it
There are ways you can use active relaxation to stop and rest without increasing your anxiety. Active relaxation keeps the mind engaged and free from anxious thoughts as your body releases tension and invokes the much needed relaxation response.
Try Active Relaxation
Practices like QiGong, Yoga, or mindful walking can all help the mind settle and the body relax whiteout fear of unwanted thoughts taking over. If you can get to a Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or yoga class you can enjoy being guided through your practice which helps keep your kind engaged yet settled.
As previously mentioned, we often try to escape unwanted thoughts with busyness and diversion, but these are not healthy long-term solutions. They may keep our mind occupied, but there is little relaxation and we may run the risk of burning out if this is our preferred coping mechanism.
Instead of diverting us, creativity immerses us. We sink into the experience, we are engaged peacefully in something that will help us relax but, again, with a fully occupied mind.
You could choose painting, knitting, sewing, playing a musical instrument, pottery, poetry - anything that appeals to you as a gentle and engaging pursuit.
Gardening and cooking can be creative too, if you can practice them will full mindful attention to colours, scents and sounds, you can help yourself feel more immersed in the present moment and that will help you feel more peaceful.
Use guided audio
Guided relaxation recordings can help you let go and relax while occupying your mind with gentle instruction and music.
You can relax quickly, knowing you are in good hands and your mind will not be flooded by anxious or stressful thoughts because it is supported in a calming way.
Our new album Peace: Guided Meditations for Peace of Mind is available in the iTunes music store from today, with Shann's gentle guidance and the sounds of my favourite bamboo flutes we've created a collection of experiences that we hope will help you feel safe to stop and find some peace of mind.
We'd love it if you listened to a preview...