Managing and calming anxiety is not just a one step solution for most people. There are a number of methods that can help to reduce / remove anxiety and I am happy to discuss these more in a further blog if readers feel it may be useful. However, in this posting I am going to share one way that can help. That is the simple act of taking a mindful walk. I am a huge Mindfulness advocate and many (if not all!) of my blogs talk about this.
There is a practice in Mindfulness (called Mindfulness Walking) that is a form of ‘walking meditation’. This practice requires you to focus fully on every movement you make. I have adapted this process into a more simple form of practice (that I call ‘Mindful Walking’), which can be used for the purpose calming the mind and connecting with the here and now. Along with ‘Mindful Breathing’, I use this process in my cognitive therapy practice when working with clients who are confronting issues of anxiety and panic attacks.
We often view walking as a ‘means to an end’ – to get somewhere, to get fitter, to walk the dog etc. Walking is indeed a good form of exercise, but Mindful walking has the added effect of soothing the mind. If you are new to Mindful walking, try to find a place you can walk that is away from street noise, people, and has some trees – a place of ‘nature’. The bonus of walking in this type of environment is it can be easier to calm your mind and ‘just be’ when there are less distractions. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling that you can’t do Mindful walking anywhere else though. In truth, you can do this anywhere, but most find a quiet place more beneficial and easier.
When you start walking, be concious of your steps and try to ‘connect’ with being in the now. Take in your surroundings, what you see and the sounds you hear. If your mind drifts back to other thoughts, especially things in life that are bothering you, just acknowledge the thought but place no judgement on it. Instead say to yourself “I do not need to give any further attention to this now” and re-connect with your steps and your surroundings. This does take practice and the more Mindful walking you can do, the more likely it is to be of benefit. Try to make it a regular habit (once a day, once a week etc) rather than something you do only when you want to calm anxiety.
Mindful walking is a great combination for looking after your body and mind. Your mind seems to open up and your body feels great as well. Don’t be put off by the ‘Mind-Talk’ (as described in another blog here) that your mind may generate. This is a great opportunity for you to work on this and train your mind to be calm. Following the breath (Mindful breathing) and Mindful walking are really effective ways to take back control in life and be more present in the here and now. It is also an escape from the daily grind that allows you to get some fresh air and see nature. Most towns and cities have parks or areas that have some grass and trees and that is a great place for this practice.
The biggest benefit of this is it allows you freedom. Calming Anxiety is about empowering yourself. When we get overly anxious, we can feel trapped and anxiety comes over us like a blanket, blocking out all else. Calming Anxiety is about feeling like you have control. Walking gives you that freedom and control to put your life back in perspective. If possible, do some Mindful walking daily (even if it’s only 10 – 15 minutes). You could even do this when walking to the bus stop, to the shops or whilst walking the dog. Combining this into your daily routine is a great way of making it part of your everyday life. Give it a go – it’s simple and really effective. Feel free to let me know how you get on, it would be great to hear from you and you may inspire others as well! 🙂
I run a range of events and sessions on Mindfulness practice at The OPAL Centre (based near Roscommon town in Ireland). If you would like to know more about these events or Mindfulness, Mindfulness meditation or Mindful Breathing & Mindful Walking visit www.opal.ie Or you are welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org