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Feeling Anxious For No Reason? 6 Ways To Cope With

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Feeling Anxious For No Reason? 6 Ways To Cope With

Have you ever heard the saying, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself?”[1]  Simply put, it essentially suggests that if you spend all of your time worrying about how bad things are going to be in the future, you could easily end up stuck in the past. Not to mention the fact that you won’t be able to enjoy the present if you’re living your life consumed by fear and feeling anxious for no reason.

Anxiety itself can come from a variety of stressors, such as medical conditions, relationship issues, and money matters. By definition, anxiety generally refers to “an intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear that is out of proportion to normally occurring situations that we experience. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include insomnia, racing thoughts, poor concentration, irritability, restlessness, palpitations, trembling, nausea, and sweating.”[2]

Similar to your favorite video game, obstacles in life tend to get a lot more challenging the further along you go, increasing your level of stress as you reach each milestone or complete each mission. No one is immune to experiencing stress.

If you’re alive, you’re going to feel some form of stress at one point or another in your life, it’s inevitable. And as most of us already know by now, having too much stress in our lives can lead directly to severe anxiety.

So now, let’s take a look at some anxiety-busting strategies to help you cope more effectively with the severe and debilitating experience of feeling anxious for no reason.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Although you may be able to accomplish anything that you put your mind to—such as losing weight, improving your relationships, or making more money—carefully consider the level of stress involved in whatever it is that you intend to do.

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Become a student of your surroundings. Learn as much about the people, places, and things in your life as possible. Whether your dream is to bring the world closer together by creating a brand new social media platform or to open up a cool corner cafe in your own hometown, you’re going to have to be able to cope with some form of stress to make whatever you decide to do in your life a success.

With that said, set goals that are challenging but attainable with hard work and determination.

2. Set Firm Boundaries

Map out your emotional territory. From the very beginning of history, conflict has been an inherent part of the human experience. The more conflict, the more stress, and the more stress, the more anxiety, and so on.

Besides learning how to strengthen your body and soul, you can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety by taking better care of your mind. When you set firm boundaries with others, you give yourself the emotional space to process the value of relationships on your terms.

Let the people that surround you know exactly what you are willing to do and how far you are willing to go. Ultimately, this will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by setting realistic and manageable expectations with others.

3. Set Priorities

Choose your emotional battles wisely. Not every stressful situation necessarily leads to debilitating symptoms of anxiety. Rather than trying to tackle the most profound obstacles in your way all at once, reverse triage the situation by chipping away at smaller issues first.

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Consider taking on challenges that you feel you can manage effectively with the least amount of effort. Get the momentum going as you lead with your strengths. And then, as you begin to break through each obstacle in your way, take a personal inventory of your accomplishments. Take note of all the progress that you were able to make along the way, as well as how you were able to muster up the courage and internal fortitude to keep moving forward even in your most difficult and precarious moments.

This should help you build a greater sense of self-confidence as you reflect on your own achievements. Similar to the lion in the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, the more aware you are of your own ability to handle stressful situations and overcome adversity, the less anxious you will ultimately feel.

4. Pace Yourself

When you’re feeling anxious for no reason, one of the best things to do is to pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The key to longevity in whatever you do is setting a manageable pace to avoid burning out before you make it to the finish line.

So, try not to get ahead of yourself as you work your way up and through the gauntlet of impending issues that we will all ultimately face along the way in life. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your own personal empire, no matter how entrepreneurial or emotionally fuel-efficient you may be.

Rather than trying to accomplish all of your goals as fast as possible, you may be better off striving to reach attainable milestones on your journey. Whether you’re dealing with problems at work or home, do as much as you can to address and resolve your issues without getting yourself stressed out and overwhelmed.

And if you just can’t get a handle on the situation, know when to say when. You just may need to step away from the battle for a moment or two, so that you can ultimately return to the front and fight the good fight another day emotionally re-energized.

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5. Talk to Someone

You can’t see the forest from the road. That is unless you’re able to somehow see above the treeline. Many of us experience tunnel vision when we’re dealing with something that we perceive to be a major problem in our lives. We find ourselves consumed with the circumstances that surround whatever it is that’s bothering us while losing sight of many of the other important things in our lives.

From my personal experience, I know how hard it can be to open up about your feelings, especially if you live a fast-paced life with little downtime to reflect or come from a family where no one was ever encouraged to express their feelings. Nevertheless, as a professional mental health interventionist and licensed psychotherapist, I have been a sounding board for countless people in crisis.

Research strongly suggests that taking the time to talk through your greatest fears with the right person can help you break through even some of the most seemingly impenetrable walls of anxiety that you have ever experienced.[3] Talk therapy works if you work it. I strongly suggest that you explore why you feel the way that you do and where those feelings are coming from.

In other words, if you want to change the fruit, you have to start at the root. The more you open up to another person about the things that make you feel anxious, the less likely those things will negatively impact your life moving forward.

6. Breathe

Have you ever worried about something so much that you actually ended up feeling physically sick, emotionally drained, even gasping for air? I know that I have. Sometimes, we may feel anxious for no reason.

If you haven’t realized it by now, life is like a perpetual obstacle course. It’s full of ups and downs, plenty of unexpected twists and turns, a bunch of hurdles, and even a few trap doors along the way. However, rather than being the first to arrive at an actual finish line, you may want to focus your attention on simply being able to make it through to the other side successfully, accomplishing as much as you can in your life-time with as much peace of mind as possible.

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Holding your breath until you get what you want might work a few times when you’re a child but not at all when you’re an adult with responsibilities like paying your bills and maintaining healthy relationships with others. With that said, at one point or another, you are going to have to come up for air to help clear your mind and replenish the oxygen in your lungs. Similar to pre-flight instructions, if there’s a problem in the air, you have to put your oxygen mask on first.

Conclusion

In conclusion, no matter how cool, calm, and collected you may appear to be at one point or another in your life, you are going to experience stress in one form or another. Too much stress can ultimately lead to a variety of debilitating symptoms of anxiety, which in turn, negatively impacts your quality of life.

Now, more than ever, as we all learn how to adapt to our post-pandemic new-normal world, many of us are experiencing symptoms of anxiety no matter how hard we try to manage the level of stress in our lives. By learning how to effectively cope with anxiety, we can ultimately break right on through it so that we can live an even more productive and fulfilling life.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most common-sense strategy to reduce experiencing symptoms of anxiety is to avoid putting yourself in highly stressful situations in the first place if possible.

Read These If You’re Feeling Anxious for No Reason

Featured photo credit: Tiago Bandeira via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Teaching History: The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
[2] Mayo Clinic: Anxiety Disorders
[3] Mental Health Foundation: Talking therapies

More by this author

Evan Jarschauer

Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on November 8, 2021

How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

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How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

Do you often feel stressed for most of your day? Maybe you always feel a burden that you just can’t get rid of? Focused meditation might be your answer.

In this article, I’ll explore what focused meditation is, how it differs in the pool of many styles of meditation, and how to implement and start this practice today. Likewise, I’ll highlight the benefits of a focused meditation practice for your overall health.

What Is Focused Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.[1] Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:

  • Mindfulness – this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
  • Concentrative – a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point; be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space you’re meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
  • Moving – this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.

Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase (also known as mantra) or a sound (such as Om).[2][3]

Whatever you settle your attention on becomes the focal point. None of these object examples are better than others—they are simply choices depending on what you’re looking to get out of your practice. For example, practitioners will choose candle gazing to interpret the images the flame makes in the shadows while others will choose a mantra because that particular phrase or word empowers or heals them.

How Does It Differ From Other Meditation Styles?

All meditation styles and practices overlap and build on each other. Their basic foundation is the same: to bring the practitioner insight and introspection.

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There is no right or wrong way to meditate, however, the various types of meditation can enhance particular qualities. Based on your personality and needs, one type of meditation may be more useful to you than the other. The 9 types of meditation are:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spiritual meditation
  • Focused meditation
  • Movement meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Loving kindness meditation
  • Visualization meditation

Focused meditation, specifically, is the practice of focusing on one single object for the duration of the practice. How this differs from other meditation styles is that it gives the practitioner something tangible to do: focus. It’s almost like giving your mind an action to perform—listen to this sound, repeat these words, watch this flame, etc. This is also one of the reasons why this particular meditation style is great for beginners!

One of the biggest challenges in any meditation practice is that the mind gets carried away and we lose ourselves to random thoughts. This “obstacle” is actually a style of meditation in and of itself called Vipassana.[4] However, in focused meditation, we give the mind something to do so that it’s not simply left to its own devices. This type of meditation is beneficial for beginners and for practitioners who prefer some structure and guidance to their meditations.

The Benefits of Focused Meditation

In this style of meditation, what you’re really doing is exercising your mental muscles. Your brain is highly affected by dedicated and concentrated meditation practice.

Scientists have performed countless studies on focused meditation and have found that active meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain and, therefore, offsetting the cognitive decline that comes with aging. So, not only does practicing focused meditation help you learn how to focus better on certain tasks, but it also improves similar functions, such as memory. [5]

Likewise, it helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which our society is currently crippled with.[6] By settling your attention on an object, you are essentially building your ability to observe your thoughts and sensations from a place of objectivity. This allows you to detach from negative self-talk that is often the breeding ground for depression and other mental illnesses.

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From a guided meditation for focus to practicing it yourself, daily meditation for focus comes with several benefits:

  • It’ll reduce stress
  • Help you to control anxiety
  • Enhance your self-awareness
  • Improve attention span
  • Helps you to focus on the present moment
  • Increase your creativity and imagination
  • And boost your patience and tolerance for things.

How to Practice Focused Meditation

Here are six tips to help you practice focused meditation. Based on your availability and interest, these tips may change and evolve. That’s the point: to create a structured practice that caters to your needs.

1. Find a Comfortable Seat

As with any meditation practice, comfort is truly key. The physical body responds to meditation practice by alerting you to whether it is comfortable and supported or stressed out and in pain. This is best observed in practitioners who tend to slouch and lose the tall, supported spine that is essential to meditation practice.

A simple rule in meditative sitting is to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, choosing to sit in a chair instead of on the floor may be a smart decision or perhaps propping yourself up on a cushion. For meditation techniques overall, it does not matter how you sit. All that matters is that you are supported and comfortable sitting for some time.

2. Choose Your Object of Focus

Every meditation training session is going to be different because no single day is the same for any one person. Therefore, experienced meditators know that choosing an object is more about listening to what you need at this time versus following any doctrine or “rule.”

If you’re not sure and have a hard time deciding, make focusing on your breath and pay attention to the inhale and exhale is a good option. Then, assign each inhale and exhale a number, and once you reach 10, start over. This is one of the simpler methods of keeping your mind occupied—by giving it a task. This also trains your mind, and over time and with practice, your mind will easily focus on an object without too much effort.

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3. Set Your Desired Time or “Go With the Flow”

If you have a structured routine and would like to stick to your schedule, by all means, set a gentle timer for how long you’d like your meditation to be. This is also your opportunity to throw out the notion that any meditation has to be a certain length of time to be correct—it does not.

Likewise, if you have the time, you can also listen to your body and come out of your meditation when you feel it’s right to do so. This is often a beautiful practice of listening and tuning in.

4. Relax Your Body as You Focus on Your Meditation

Typically, when we are focusing on something, we tend to tighten our body. Observe this next time that you’re concentrating on something: your jaw will tighten and your shoulders will squeeze up towards your ears.

As you sink into your meditation, keep this in mind and check in with your body every once in a while. Let your shoulders sink down your back and release any tension through your jaw and face. Lastly, relax your brow and let your eyes be heavy in their sockets. Then, return to your object of meditation. Observe if your meditation changes at all by relaxing your physical body.

5. Return to Your Breath and Object When You Get Distracted

Notice that I didn’t say “if you get distracted.” That’s because you definitely will drift off with random thoughts or get pulled away from your object of focus. In meditation, distractions are almost guaranteed. Therefore, it’s your opportunity to practice detaching yourself from feeling guilty or inadequate to continue.

Over time and with practice, you will find it easier to stay with your object of focus. In the meantime, however, notice when you get distracted. Pause and take a big breath in and out. Check in with your physical body and relax. Once you’re ready again, return to your object of focus. Meditation is simply one long cycle of wandering and coming back to yourself.

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6. Journal Your Experiences

When your meditation practice has ended, another powerful practice is to jot down any experiences that you felt. There may have been insights and “downloads” that you acquired during your session that you may want to record.

Likewise, you could write about any challenges that you faced. These are great lessons that will continue to show up for you, and it’s nice to keep a journal of them to see how they evolve and progress over time (and they will). Lastly, you can write about what works and what doesn’t, as far as picking your objects of meditation go. This way, you can learn what you most associate with and feel comfortable with.

While these steps are simple, it’s easier said than done. Whether you’re starting out with a guided meditation for focus, loving kindness meditation, or transcendental meditation, anticipating failure the first time you try these things is healthy. Furthermore, congratulate yourself for even making slight progress like noticing and returning to the present moment and noticing the sensations you experienced.

Final Thoughts

If practicing meditation causes you to feel distracted and unsupported, give focused meditation a go! With the help of an object to bring your attention to, it structures your meditation time and offers guidance and support.

Dedicating yourself to this style of meditation will help increase your memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote better cognitive function. Even though any style of meditation is a powerful way of taking care of your mental health, focused meditation gives your mind a tangible task with which to grow and strengthen.

More About Focused Meditation

Featured photo credit: Lua Valentia via unsplash.com

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Reference

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