What is Mindfulness? With Anxiety Coach Katie Goode, LMFT
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- Anxiety in Teens
This word Mindfulness, we hear it a lot. But what exactly is it all about, and more importantly, how can it help YOU with anxiety, eating disorders, and so much more? Learn all about the power of mindfulness as well as effective exercises you can do right now with Katie Goode!
1) What is Mindfulness?
Most of us get distracted, zone out, or spend most of our time running on autopilot. We don’t even realize our thoughts are somewhere else and we’re missing a lot of what is happening in the present moment.
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions – in the present moment – without judging or criticizing.
Mindfulness is, basically, paying attention. It’s knowing what is actually happening as it happens.
2) Why is Mindfulness important to mental health disorders, such as anxiety or eating disorders?
Most people with anxiety spend a lot of time, and energy, worrying about what might, or might not, happen in the future.
Let me give you an example:
Say I’m afraid that I’ll get hit by a bus someday so I spend a lot of time sitting on my couch, or tossing or turning at night, worrying about getting hit by a bus… There’s very little possibility a bus is going to come through my wall and hit me on the couch or in bed, but that’s how I’m spending my time and energy.
I’m missing out on what’s actually happening in that moment because my thoughts are on a possible future.
When we focus on the present moment we can gain better insight and awareness. We can learn to control our emotions and reactions, by paying attention to them.
When we start to experience a feeling, we can ask: “where is this feeling or thought coming from?” A lot of times it’s coming from our past or our perceptions and not the present reality.
We can separate judgmental thoughts from our experiences; and separate our thoughts from our emotions or physical sensations.
For people with eating disorders, learning to separate thoughts and feelings from physical sensations is critical. For example, I’ll often ask my clients to notice if they’re feeling physically or emotionally hungry. If it’s physical hunger, eat until your body tells you it’s satisfied. If it’s emotional hunger, use a coping skill that will help you meet that emotional need.
3) Is the Mind and the Body actually connected so much?
How many times have you heard someone say “I have butterflies in my stomach” to describe feeling nervous? Come home from a stressful day with stiff and sore shoulders? Or, had the too much caffeine jitters and suddenly felt anxious?
The body-mind connection is especially noticeable for people with panic attacks. Some of the main symptoms of a panic attach are physical: shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea, trembling, sweating, and hot flashes or chills. Most people are diagnosed with panic disorder only after visiting an emergency room.
4) What is an exercise someone can do to start practicing mindfulness techniques?
To begin developing a mindfulness practice, try the following exercise:
Take a few moments each day (2-5 minutes) to focus on your breath. With each breath you take, think the following “As I breathe in, I notice I am breathing in. As I breathe out, I notice I am breathing out.”
Just notice your breath. Do you inhale/exhale through your nose or mouth?
Notice the air expanding your lungs as you inhale. Notice your lungs contracting as you push the air out with each exhale.
Is there a pause between the inhale and the exhale?
Is the inhale the same length as the exhale? Or is the exhale slightly longer?
Are your breaths smooth, choppy, or a little of both?
What else do you notice about your breath?
When your mind starts to wander, just notice it and bring your awareness back to your breath. (Notice that I said when your mind wanders, not if.)
Just practice noticing without judgment, without criticism.
About Katie Goode
As a licensed psychotherapist and life coach, Katie Goode helps people let go of anxiety and live happy, healthy and confident lives. Her clients include executives, entrepreneurs, mothers, teens, professionals, college students, and others.
Ms. Goode leads mindfulness and hypnosis workshops in person and online. She teaches and provides clinical supervision at Hope International University’s school of Marriage and Family Therapy. She is also the President of the Orange County Chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.
Visit http://katiegoode.com for more information.