Managing anxiety can feel like a nearly insurmountable task.
However, there are tried and true methods to help you get out of the grip of this overwhelming condition.
In fact, one of the most useful anxiety treatment options is mindfulness. Simply by increasing your awareness of the present moment, you can reduce the intensity of anxiety.
Increasing awareness helps with different forms of anxiety. For example, you can use it as a technique to get through a panic attack. Plus, staying present in the moment can help you through social anxiety and various phobias as well.
What Does Increasing Awareness Mean?
Increasing awareness is another way of thinking about the practice of mindfulness. It is a method of being present in the current moment. You look at exactly what is happening. Moreover, you examine your own reaction to what is happening. And you do so without judgment.
For example, let’s say that you feel anxiety coming on. You might feel compelled to decrease awareness, particularly of your own body. That’s a way of numbing out so that you don’t have to feel so much anxiety. However, you can actually benefit yourself by doing the opposite and increasing your awareness.
In particular, you could increase your body awareness. Scan your body to see what each part feels like. You might notice that your throat feels like it is closing. On the other hand, you might realize that each muscle in your body is tense.
Questions for Increasing Awareness
It’s often as simple as asking yourself, “What am I aware of right now?”
Here are some other questions that you can ask yourself to increase awareness around anxiety:
- What is the emotion that I feel right now?
- What triggered the emotion?
- Where in my body do I feel that emotion?
- What other sensations are in my body right now?
- What thoughts am I having?
- Are those thoughts true and accurate?
The Fear of Increasing Awareness
Some people worry that increasing awareness will only exacerbate their anxiety.
For example, if you notice that your throat feels like it is closing, you might panic. However, if you notice it with openness, curiosity, and non-judgment, then there is nothing to fear. Nothing bad will happen by simply paying attention to the reality of what is going on.
The idea is to get to know what is happening inside of you. Get to know what anxiety really means for you. The better you understand what is happening in the moment, the more capable you will be of finding methods of managing anxiety.
How Increasing Awareness Helps with Managing Anxiety
Increasing awareness helps you to be present in the moment. In almost all cases, there is nothing to cause anxiety in the moment. Anxiety comes from fears, which are usually about the future.
Sometimes, of course, it is triggered by thoughts about the past. However, if you can increase your awareness of what is happening in this exact moment, then you can more easily see that there is nothing to be anxious about.
Furthermore, you can use what you learn in actively managing your anxiety. For example, you notice that your breathing is constricted when you are anxious. Knowing this, you can implement deep breathing techniques. As you take long, slow, deep inhalations, your body will relax. And by keeping your awareness on your body, you will notice as the anxiety subsides.
Of course, as you notice one anxiety symptom subside, you might then notice a new or underlying one pop up. That can be frustrating, but it is also okay.
Whatever crops up, simply notice it, don’t judge. And then ask yourself what you can do to eliminate the symptom. If you can’t get rid of it entirely, then think about what you can do to reduce its intensity.
Managing anxiety might feel challenging, but remember that you aren’t alone. There are people who can and want to help. If you are interested in our therapeutic approach, please learn more about anxiety treatment here.