Out of all of the posts I have written over the years, none have been as popular as the ones about anxiety and mindfulness. There can be a type of intense anxiety that comes with tragic loss so let’s start with some basics. Mastering basics is an amazing feat when you are grieving, so if you this is you, pat yourself on the back.
1. Acknowledge you are feeling anxious. When you think of something about yourself, or you have a realization, you set a series of actions into play in your brain. One way your brain responds is by activating the organizer and healer in you to take care of what is happening. That’s a good thing. Give yourself access to those parts of yourself. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious. It’s ok and it’s also ok to take care of it. Nurture it.
2. Mindfulness is a great practice. And that is what it is, a practice, meant to be done on a regular basis. Learn some techniques that work for you and incorporate them into your daily living. I write affirmations out and post them on the wall next to my desk. Before I start a project or job, I begin with an affirmation, so my mindset is in a good space when I am working. I also do mindfulness exercises throughout the day. I have a little book that I keep close by and can refer to for reading or exercises. I’ll list it at the end of this post.
3. Deep breathing goes along with mindfulness. The idea is not to only offer oxygen to other parts of your body, but distract the mind, which focuses on the breathing. Meditation is similar. It’s learning to become aware of your thoughts and then choose to consciously shift them. Deep breathing is a specific focus on breath. If you do it as a practice, then you are basically meditating on your breath.
4. Committing to some type of exercise is also healthy for the mind and body. With the change in heart rate and breathing, chemicals shift in the body and brain, often offering a calming effect. Even 10 minutes a day can make a difference. Do whatever is healthy and manageable for you. Start small and grow the habit. You may surprise yourself.
5. Work towards a healthy lifestyle. Awareness also includes what you are eating, how you spend your time, what the stressors are in your life and finding the right balance in your life for your mind, your body, and your spirit. For example, keeping friends and family nearby. Or within reach for when you need them. Maybe it’s incorporating a date night with your partner. Or perhaps it is going for walks on your lunch break at work. Try a few things out, keep a log and see what works.
6. If things do not feel manageable or you would like support, a counselor or life coach is a great option. Sometimes seeking a professional is comforting, sometimes it speaks to accountability in people. Just find someone that can support you in a healthy way that is aligned with your values and goals.
Blue Dawn: Anxiety Management Strategies
Mauricio, Dawn (2020). Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners: 50 Meditations to Practice Awareness, Acceptance, and Peace. Rockridge Press.
Sockolov, Matthew (2018). Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the everyday.