OCTOBER is MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH
by Dr. M de Klerk
Anxiety is so common that I am sure that you know someone who has had or currently has anxiety.
Perhaps you are suffering from anxiety and you are trying to understand why this has happened to you. You are probably also exploring different options to make your anxiety better.
The conventional perspective on anxiety is perhaps too simplified —myou have a neurotransmitter imbalance and you need a medication to re-establish that balance. This treatment may work, but not always.
This assumes that you are broken and the only fix is a pharmaceutical drug that you might have to take for many years.
And if you’ve chosen a medication to manage your symptoms—you have done nothing wrong.
In my next article I would like to offer you some tools to help you manage your symptoms…and maybe even kick the anxiety for good.
The demands of modern day life produce stress. When the body is exposed to stress for prolonged periods it may become exhausted and in short supply. Mindfulness is a valuable and important way of assisting the body to gently return to optimal vitality.(See Stress-article of Liizl Miller of March 2014 on Naturopathic website).
Mindfulness is present moment awareness and alertness. It is about being fully present, connecting with ourselves and appreciating the fullness of each moment of life. Mindfulness helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of becoming overwhelmed by them, we can manage the discomfort of stress more effectively. Mindfulness is a combination of meditation and breathing- you can exercise it by sitting quietly for a while and by being aware of your breathing and thoughts.
Mindful breathing is the basis of every mindfulness exercise. You can try the following exercise at home:
Notice every breath.
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight.
2. Use the muscles of your abdomen to empty all the air out of your lungs for a few breaths and allow them to fill naturally again.
3. Allow your breathing to find its own rhythm whilst noticing the
* rise and fall of your shoulders
* the expansion and contraction of your abdomen
* the sensation of air entering and exiting through your nose or mouth
4. Continue to breathe and notice the silence created by the gap between breaths. Allow your thoughts to come and go without getting lost in them.
A study on Mindfulness-based stress reduction did not find a significant relationship between increased mindfulness and improved physical health. It is therefore very important to combine mindfulness exercises with therapy to be able to connect with repressed information and stressors. This can assist the client to achieve balance on a physiological and psychological level.
Please see my website: www.lmiller.co.za for more information on the SHIP® psychotherapeutic approach as a means to deal with psychological healing and growth in a holistic approach.
1. JOS. 1998. SHIP® Overview.
2. Woman & Home (2014, April). Mindfulness: The big new secret to a calmer,
happier life. Woman & Home, 102-104.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.minfulness-based_stress_reduction. Mindfulness- based stress reduction.