Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

How to tailor various 'anxiety-reducing' techniques to better suit your own needs

Combining various mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can have numerous health benefits, according to new research.

concept of yoga mindfulness meditation

Anxiety-reducing techniques you read about online can be tailored to better suit your needs.

Image by Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art on Shutterstock
  • Mindfulness is typically described as the ability to become more aware of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being at the present moment, without any negative perceptions.
  • In a 2019 UK-based study, participants who tailored various self-help practices to fit their individual circumstances and anxieties found them much more beneficial after as little as 5 minutes per day.
  • Different mindfulness techniques fit well together – here, we take a look at how to tailor various combinations to suit your individual needs.

    How do mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) work?

    peace of mind label on wooden surface

    Achieving peace of mind through various mindfulness techniques is easier than you think.

    Photo by Coompia77 on Shutterstock

    What is mindfulness?
    While there is currently no universally accepted definition for mindfulness (as it can vary depending on each person's definition of mindfulness or how to achieve it), the general idea associated with mindfulness is that you become more aware of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being at the present moment.

    A 2019 study assessed how MBIs have been applied successfully across different populations of people, reaching a conclusion that even brief exposure (as little as 5 minutes a day) can impact numerous health-related incomes such as anxiety, depression, stress, and cognitive outcomes.

    Some examples of MBIs include:

    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Breathing exercises
    • Guided imagery practices

    Mental health professionals suggest that through mindfulness practices, we can separate ourselves from negative thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations that revolve around the daily stresses in our lives. This kind of separation allows us to gain perspective and find it easier to address the issues we're facing.

    Combine multiple techniques to achieve the best results.

    While anxiety patients generally pick one type of MBI and test it, switching to another if that one is unsuccessful, research shows that psychological stress-management techniques like these are best in combination with each other instead of one by one. In 2019, a separate study by UK-based researchers Xu Wang, Connie Smith, Laura Ashley, and Michael E. Hyland looked at the impact of tailoring specific mindfulness-based interventions to each individual in their study of stroke survivors struggling with anxiety.

    Based on the results, two things are clear:

    • After the participants tailored these self-help practices to fit their individual circumstances and anxieties, they were perceived as more acceptable, user-friendly, and beneficial.
    • In order for these mindfulness techniques to be most beneficial, they should be practiced once per day.

    Which MBI techniques go well together?

    woman in yoga position focusing on breathing concept of mindfulness techniques

    Focusing on your breathing is a critical part of most MBI practices.

    Photo by fizkes on Shutterstock

    Mindful breathing and meditation
    Pausing and taking a few deep breaths is a good way to get a handle on your emotions, but in order for mindful breathing exercises to really work, research suggests you pay attention to the physical senses as well.

    In this beginner's guide to meditation, it's suggested to "follow your breath" for two minutes before really anchoring yourself in a meditation session. Naturally, your mind will wander. Take note of the distraction but don't let it consume you.

    Simply ignoring the outside world to try to focus on your breathing will only create more distractions. Instead, allowing yourself to be aware of your physical surroundings will make it much easier to eventually tune those things out and focus on your breathing.

    Yoga and mindful breathing
    Simply "going through the motions," as many do when following a yoga tutorial on Youtube or practicing something they read about online, isn't nearly as impactful as allowing the natural flow of yoga and breathing to carry you into a calm state of mind.

    Research supports the idea that yoga, in combination with mindful breathing techniques, can improve physical and mental health through regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is our central stress response system.

    Progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, and guided imagery
    Progressive muscle relaxation is the technique where you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in and relax that group of muscles as you breathe out. It incorporates mindful breathing, but guided imagery practices can take this anxiety-reducing technique to the next level.

    Progressive muscle relaxation looks like this:

    • Breathe in, tensing the first muscle group hard, but not hard enough to cause discomfort or cramping, for a maximum of 10 seconds.
    • Breathe out, completely relaxing the muscle group suddenly. This shouldn't be a gradual release, it should be a quick release.
    • Relax for a maximum of 20 seconds before moving onto the next muscle group.

    A breakdown of muscle groups and how-to instructions for muscle relaxation can be found via the University of Michigan's Health Library website. It's important to do this technique in the correct muscle group order to allow yourself to benefit from the experience.

    Once you've completed this technique a few times and feel familiar with how it goes, adding guided imagery practices can help you work on your timing and release/relaxation moments can become more impactful.

    Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

    Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

    Gear
    • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
    • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
    • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
    Keep reading Show less

    Just How Much Land Does the Federal Government Own — and Why?

    The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.

    Surprising Science

    The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada.

    Keep reading Show less

    Break down the secrets to a lucrative project management career

    This course collection can get you trained and ready for a six-figure career in this field.

    Gear
    • The Premium 2020 Project & Quality Management Certification Bundle explores the most popular project management methodologies.
    • Coursework covers Agile, Agile Scrum, PMI-PMBOK and Six Sigma approaches.
    • Valued at $2,699, the course package is on sale for just $45.99.
    Keep reading Show less

    Can VR help us understand layers of oppression?

    Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

    Future of Learning
    • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
    • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
    • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
    Keep reading Show less
    Coronavirus

    Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

    President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast