Categories: Mental Health

Reducing Anxiety: When Mindfullness doesn’t Work

I don’t want to meditate

Ah, mindfulness. It may work for a lot of people, but it does not work for me. Mindfulness is the “basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

I cannot do that. Particularly the last bit. I have been halfway present in this world since I was ten-years-old, and I will continue to do so because being fully present and aware of what’s going on around me sounds terrible and I don’t want to do it. Whenever I try, I just get angrier and more anxious. The closest it ever came to working was when I was taking deep breaths while focusing on how much I hated mindfulness. I do not desire to be mindful! And clearly, neither do you.

I’m writing this article as I myself am currently roughing it. My anxiety often leads to me feeling less adequate in my abilities and thus comes back to bite me sometimes.  Here are some things that help me help myself out.

My inner soul whenever I try meditating

Make a list of only two things to do

If you’re unable to withstand the idea of completing everything on your to-do list, pick two of the most important, most accomplishable things. It overwhelms me so much to see and think about everything I have to do. It’s sometimes so overwhelming that I just freeze and pause for the entire day. When I had days where my tasks are piling up, and I have a little bit of time, I’ll make my list of two things to do and complete those two tasks. Sometimes after completing the second task, I will be calm enough to be able to do a few more things. If I don’t reach the ability to do anything else, then I can take a breather knowing I did at least two things. If those two things were just sending an email and walking my dog, I’ll still be pleased with myself because I took my “I can’t,” and turned it into an “I did.”

If you’re relating to Spongebob in this gif, just take the top two things on that list and run with it. Don’t look at the rest of it, just do two things. That’s all you need to do. You have my permission.

15 Minute Tasks

If you have to complete a task that takes four hours, and the idea of those four hours is killing you, split your task up into 15 minute increments. I learned this task from someone who struggled with anxiety concerning tasks as well, and she told me “anyone can do anything for 15 minutes.” It’s true. 15 minutes is a really short amount of time. You can do anything for 15 minutes. If that task is taking 4 hours, set a timer. Work for 15 minutes. Enjoy yourself for another 15 minutes. Come back to the task. Repeat. That’s all it is, and it works. Eventually, you’ll find your groove in the task you’re doing and you’ll need those 15 minute timers less and less as you get closer to finishing what you need to do. 

Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes

Rewire Your Thinking

I started this section off thinking about the phrase “opposite action.” I learned about opposite action during a DBT group therapy session, and I didn’t like it at first. It was explained as doing the opposite action of what your anxious thought was, as in, if I wanted to not do my homework and instead watch TV, I was supposed to instead do my homework and not watch TV. I thought the advice of “doing the opposite of what you want to do,” was just a different way of saying “just do it,” which I did not find helpful.

As such, I changed it up a little for myself. Now, if I have anxiety about homework and watch to watch TV instead, I’ll ask myself “What will kill my anxiety more? Doing my homework, or watching TV?” I then usually come around to the thought of “the only way to make myself feel better is to do what I don’t want to do.” If you can get your brain to think this way, it gets a little easier to do things each time. 

Take care of your basic needs

When you’re feeling a lot of anxiety, I think it’s really easy to get stuck in your headspace and forget about what human beings need to both survive and feel good about themselves. Sometimes, all you really need is a shower and a sandwich. If your routine falls out of balance, you will also fall out of balance. When you wake up with the desire to not get out of bed and disappear from the world, make yourself walk into the bathroom and take a shower. Long shower, short shower, it doesn’t matter. 

See Also

Any task worth doing is worth doing poorly. If you’re anxiety has reached depression and the thought of a full shower is taxing for you right now, just go in and stand under the water. If you can only wash your hair, then just wash your hair. If you can only brush your teeth for 20 seconds, brush your teeth for 20 seconds. You’ll do the rest when you’re able. When you get out of the shower, try to do something with your hair. It doesn’t have to be the full length process of using your hairdryer and your flat-iron, or whatever it normally is. If all you can manage is putting your hair in a bun, great. I like to always add on a little bit of make-up. Eat breakfast, or lunch if you’re a late riser. Drink water, not soda or juice.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not leaving the house today, you just need to trick your body into remembering who you are so you remember everything you’re capable of. Taking care of your basic needs is the first step to taking care of yourself. Just take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

You start the path to self-actualization at the bottom of the pyramid. Make sure your bottom levels are fulfilled before trying to jump to the top.

Get some reassurance

Sometimes, we need someone else’s help. Even if you think you have no one, you always have someone. If your reassurance isn’t coming from family or friends, it’s chill to go on forums for fellow anxious people and ask for support there. If a TikTok video of someone telling you that you’re amazing is what you need, you’ll be able to find that. No matter what, I believe in you. I may not know who you are on the other side of the screen, but I understand what you’re going through and I know this is hard. I know you might not believe in yourself right now, but I promise you that things will turn out the way you want them too. I had the worst year of my life before I found happiness in who I was and regained my confidence in my abilities. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark or far away it seems right now.

You got this. You are where you are now because you have always believed in yourself. Keep doing that. Your anxiety is wrong when it makes you think you can’t do anything. Your anxiety is lying to you when it makes you doubt your abilities. You can do it.

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Cristina Aguila

Hi! I'm Tina! I was born in Miami, FL, and raised in the Florida Keys before attending Florida State University in 2016. I graduate at the end of July with a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media and a combined minor in English and Film; yay! I've been writing since I was a small child and have worked to hone my craft since then as well. My favorite book in Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and you can often find me cuddling my dog and playing silly iPhone games in my spare time.

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