Returning to Three Mindfulness Basics for Anxiety and Depression
Do you ever feel like it is time to return to the basics? There are so many “tools” and strategies to practice that help you manage your emotions, obsessions, compulsions, and anxiety, which can feel overwhelming at times. You might feel like you need to simplify your mental health practices so that you only have a few things to focus on. If you have been feeling like this, you are not alone.
Very recently, I realized that it was time for me to return back to some mindfulness basics and review the tools that were so helpful to me a while ago. That is what this episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit is all about: 3 mindfulness basics for depression and anxiety that are very important to return to over and over again. In my opinion, they are the most basic and important three and are so helpful when you are dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, stress, and life events.
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Sometimes there is a resistance to return to the basics because we are scared that it means we are regressing or “going backward” in our recovery journey. Going back to the basics is not because we are backtracking or because we are doing something wrong. Each time that we return to the basics, we can troubleshoot something that we have been missing. Anxiety is tricky and returning to the basics can help us recharge our mental health practice and plan.
How often do you judge yourself or an event or a thought or a feeling or how you performed? How often do you tell yourself a story about an event that is painted heavily with a thick layer of judgment? If you’re saying that you do, that will continue to trigger off anxiety for you.
Take the judgment out of everything. This goes for thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. When we have them and say that they are bad and that we shouldn’t have them or that they are good and we should have those, we are creating an environment in our brain where things are very black and white. That is anxiety-provoking. To paint your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as either good or bad actually recreates your brain triggering off anxiety. Ultimately, you are telling your brain “Here are the rules. You’re either good or bad. Perform for me.”
Non-judgment is SO important when it comes to the treatment of anxiety and depression! I’ve done a lot of episodes on this, which you can go back and look at.
2.) Being Present
Being present is probably the most important mindfulness tool you will have to practice. Anxiety in and of itself pulls you away from the present and pushes you into either the future or the past. To really strengthen ourselves to be able to handle and tolerate anxiety, we must have a place where we can be at where anxiety does not get to call the shots or ruin everything. That is the present: right here and right now as you breathe, smell, taste, experience the gravity being pulled down where you are. By bringing your attention to these things, anxiety has less of a stage to perform on.
3.) Open, curious, beginners mind
This involves being OPEN to the present. Sometimes when we are being present we are wrestling with it. Being open and curious is an incredible mindfulness basic tool that can help you decrease attachment to the way you think things should be and move towards being curious. It looks like: "Huh, I’m noticing that my heart is racing. That’s interesting and I’m going to allow that. I’m going to be open to it and be curious about it."
Being open and curious gives us the opportunity to undo the narrative that we have and be open to a new narrative: It looks like: "Maybe panic attack won’t hurt me. I’m just going to see. Maybe that urge that showed up in my body won’t hurt me. Maybe it is just going to do its thing and rise and fall. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Let’s just see." This open, curious perspective can change the stories that we tell ourselves all day.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness skills that I teach my clients who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), we have an online course called Mindfulness School for OCD that is offered year around on CBTSchool.com. Click HERE to learn more and sign up.
I’m so excited to remind you about a few upcoming events for OCD & BFRB’s. The TLC Foundation is hosting their annual conference on Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors from May 2-4 in Virginia. To learn more about the conference or to buy tickets, click HERE. Also, the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF) Annual Conference will be held in Austin, Texas, from July 19-21. I am speaking on a panel at this conference and love seeing members of the CBT School community there! For more information on the conference or to buy tickets, click HERE.
About Kimberley Quinlan
Kimberley Quinlan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Eating Disorders, Panic Disorder and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB’s). Kimberley is highly trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with a heavy emphasis on Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), and has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for many years. Kimberley has a special interest in the integration of mindfulness principles with CBT for OCD, Anxiety Disorders, and Eating Disorders. Kimberley has experience treating adults, adolescents, and children, and tailors each program to suit the age and cognitive development of each client. Kimberley has a private practice in Calabasas and Westlake Village.
For more information, you can find Kimberley at the following: