I practiced one week of mindfulness to cope with my anxiety and it was interesting to say the least. Mindfulness at its very core is the, “quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” OKAY, NOW WAIT. I thought it was silly too. My best friend suggested it to me for three and a half years and I said no.
But then something magical happened.
For a while now, my anxiety has been causing me to dissociate. This is when you disconnect your emotions to what is happening around you. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced and I didn’t even know it was happening till recently. It’s like you're floating over your head watching yourself function. It essentially feels like you are living in a fog and things are happening around you, but they are not affecting you. Sounds annoying right? It is.
So I looked for a solution and found mindfulness.
I spent one minute being mindful of lotion. First, I felt the bottle of the lotion the pointy part where the lotion comes out and the ridges on the sides. Then, I observed how cold the bottle was and then I pushed the lotion out of the bottle and on to my hand. I allowed it to fall into my hand as a blob rather than a line, and then I slowly began rubbing in into my palm. As I went in concentric circles on my hands, I noticed how much softer my hands were getting. I also noticed the smell of the lotion. If you know how this lotion smells, you know it is amazing!
So I just spend 116 words to describe how I put on lotion. Weird? Yes it is. But worth it? Well, in that time I wasn’t focused on anything else. I was thinking solely about that bottle of lotion and how to apply that lotion and how it felt. I’m not going to lie to you and say I didn’t get distracted. Of course I did! All it takes is practice.
I was making pasta and something about the lighting of my apartment and the heat for boiling water causes me anxiety. I was like, okay this is strange, but let's be mindful. I practiced mindfulness while making pasta. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes so I only did it for about 3 minutes, towards the end of the pasta making process. When I was adding the sauce, cheese, and of course red pepper flakes.
I practiced mindfulness while I was in class. With my water bottle. I would highly recommend using water if you can't think of an object or action to practice with. It’s easy to access and when you drink it, I think you feel more connected with the real world.
I’m an artist, so the easiest thing for me to be mindful with and focus in on is drawing. My drawing class is 3 hours. I could not practice mindfulness for three hours, but I was able to turn off the music for 10 minutes and focus solely on what I was drawing.
I tried to practiced while I was driving. I’m sure there is a correct and safe way to do this, but I would not recommend it for a beginner. Just focusing on one thing is already so difficult; I think sticking to simple objects and actions is better.
I practiced mindfulness while brushing my teeth. This is also a great place to start because it is something you do everyday (hopefully) and you can add mindfulness into your routine.
The last day! I practiced mindfulness while cleaning my room. This was the hardest thing I did. I generally having music or Netflix playing in the background while I’m cleaning my room, but I turned nothing on. I folded my clothes in silence. I thought about what clothes I needed this to be ready for this week. I started to think about something funny that happened or something else I had to do, but then reminded myself to reel it back. I’m a bit of a neat freak so it takes me a while to clean my room, but I got the job done.
By the end of these 7 days, I felt less cloudy. Not all the time. I’m still dissociating, but it has definitely reduced. More importantly, I know what to do when I am dissociating. I think a person's strength lies in in learning how to cope with their weakness. Adding mindfulness to your lifestyle can help you take a step back and focus on the bigger picture rather than all the little things that bother you. Which is strange because we practicing mindfulness by focusing intensely on everyday tasks, but doing this allows you to have a deeper understanding of the world and a more satisfied life.