Monday, April 21st, 2014

Mind Over Matter: 3 Tips for Mentally Letting Go of Anxiety

Published on March 15, 2013 by   ·   No Comments Pin It
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Crushing work deadlines, family obligations and never-ending errands can cause even the most stable person to get a little on edge.  But what happens when that stress turns into something more intense?  What if you’re one of the many people every day that suffers from anxiety?  I’ve been there.  I know what it feels like to have a panic attack so severe you fear you might pass out.  My anxiety exposed my weaknesses.  It made me feel vulnerable. And worst of all, it made me feel like I had no control over my life.

When my anxiety started to feel like it was taking over, I hit the ground running.  Or actually, I hit the mat yoga-ing!  What started out as merely a physical practice, became a life-altering experience for me when I started to combine my asana practice with a strong mental practice.  Bringing my mind onto the mat made my anxiety disintegrate.  When I focused just as much on my mental practice as my physical one there was no longer room for anxiety’s choke hold on me.

If you’re down for some of this mental mojo, here are three yogic philosophies to focus on the next time you find yourself more stressed out than blissed out:

  • Ahimsa: the practice of non-violence reminds us to be kind to ourselves.  It can be astounding (and enlightening!) to keep track of all your negative thoughts for one day.  We are pretty good at getting down on ourselves- and that needs to stop!  Automatically believing the worst creates fear and feeds anxiety.  The next time you have a negative or fearful thought, turn it around to something positive.  Even if the positive thought is just acknowledging the negative one.

 

  • Saucha: the idea of purity for mind and body is powerful because it helps us clean up our crap.  When I was anxious, I’d reach for ‘comfort foods’ and all that junk would in turn create bad stomach aches for me.  My stress also resided in my stomach, so I was voluntarily creating anxious symptoms in my body without even realizing it.  The same goes for caffeine, lack of sleep, smoking… a lot of these things in our lives may be contributing to our anxiety and we don’t even realize it.

 

  • Ishvara-pranidhana: the idea of surrender can seem like a scary one, especially if we tend to desire a lot of control over things (hi, fellow type-As!).  The next time you’re faced with a distressing thought, try just letting it go.  Trust that you’re on the right path.  You can’t control everything in your life and when you let that belief go, you’ll sense pure freedom.

 

via Bonnie Schmidt – a yoga instructor in the DC area and founder of Anxiety to Zen, a holistic and mindfulness based approach to alleviating stress and anxiety.  She offers classes and workshops that focus on utilizing yogic practices and philosophies to help people alleviate their stress and anxiety.  Having overcome a debilitating anxiety disorder herself many years ago using these exact practices, she knows how important it is to have a healthy outlet and a way to keep the peace!  For more info on Bonnie, her work or her classes and workshops, please visit Anxiety to Zen or connect with her on Facebook

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