Approaching Anxiety with Mindfulness and Compassion


Late January, I was at the Cancun airport, on the way back from a relaxing vacation in Akumal, Mexico. Our ride had been a half hour late, and our flight time bumped-up a half hour early. One hour to clear the endless baggage check line and then the shoe-less security check-point. Anxious thoughts flooded my mind. Will we miss our flight? Will they confiscate my fresh avocados? Will I ever see my shoes again?

My enlightened girlfriend reminded me to breathe and use my mindfulness skills and not get swept away by my thoughts. I calmed down and we made our flight, shoes, avocados and all!

We all have situations that “stress us out” or make us anxious. How we respond internally makes all the difference.

The first step is to recognize and accept what we are thinking and feeling. We can take care of ourselves by not ruminating on anxious thoughts and feelings, but instead simply observe and feel them, and allow them to move through our body in their own time. When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s also helpful to observe any judgments we may be making about our feelings of anxiety and stress. The judgments we make about ourselves often add to our suffering. So, if we can, we make an intention to “let go” of judgment toward our thoughts and feelings and allow them to be as they are.

Using self-compassion, you can soften your stance toward your feelings. When feeling anxious, you can make an intention to “wish yourself well,” by repeating a phrase such as “may I feel more at ease.” This may feel funny at first, and you may feel a block. With practice, though, making this intention of self-compassion can help you feel more comfortable with difficult feelings and emotions such as anxiety.

I have found mindfulness and self-compassion skills to be powerful tools in my own life and in working with my clients as a therapist. I hope they can be of use to you in your life, as well.

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