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What you focus on expands | Daily mindfulness when you’re anxious

In this episode, I talk more in depth about how I use mindfulness when my anxiety decides to pop up. I think it’s really important to check in about our mental health, so I hope that if you are someone that suffers from an anxiety disorder, you can get some tips out of this episode.

Mindfulness has played a big part in helping me recognise my anxiety and managing it – but please remember to go see your doctor if you are struggling with yours. There is no substitute for professional mental health care.

 

 

Transcript:

Hi friends, welcome back to This Quote Changed My Life, a podcast about intentional action. My name is Tracey and I’m the host of the show – I’m also a Wellness Coach, a mum, a wife and just a general big old mess trying to figure out life with you all! If you’re new to the podcast, hello! You can probably tell from my accent, I’m based in Australia so it’s so cool to see listeners from all around the world tuning into my little podcast each fortnight. Thank you so much!

Before I get stuck into this episode’s quote – I wanted to let you guys know of a couple of things I’m working on aside from the podcast – my Patreon community and my Card Deck! The Make Sunshine Card Deck is basically an extension of this podcast – it’s a 52 Card deck with my absolute favourite quotes to help inspire, motivate and guide you. I’ve had such a great response to the Card Deck already, and as of this recording I do have some still in stock so check out the link to my Etsy store if you’re interested in getting a copy. And just quickly, I’ve always wanted to connect with you guys more and so I’ve been slowly building my Patreon community up – there are monthly mindset & mindfulness challenges, worksheets and other printables. It’s all still very new at the moment but you can join at any time. A link will also be in the show notes – I’d love to see you there and help support you as we all learn about mindset & mindfulness together.

But on with this week’s quote – which is

What you focus on expands

And isn’t that the truth?

I think this is a great quote to remember, especially if you’re an anxious person or suffer from an anxiety disorder. For me, I suffer from both – I’m lucky to know when I’m anxious – and I’m also lucky to know when it’s my anxiety disorder – there’s a very clear line between those two for me. But anyway, however your state of mind is – what you focus on, can quickly become your compass and your map.

It’s like blowing a bubble, the more air you put in, the bigger the bubbles gets.

The more time and energy you put into whatever it is you’re thinking about, or doing, the bigger it also gets. Does that make sense?

What you focus on expands

So there are many ways we can take this quote and apply it to our lives – I think what comes to mind first is using this as a mindset quote and really focusing on a goal that you want to achieve. But I wanted to use this episode as an opportunity to talk about our mental health and how your mindfulness practice can really help you manage the way you relate to the world, and yourself.

And notice, I don’t say ‘cure’ – you will never hear me say that I have a cure, or know a cure – because I don’t think that’s a healthy goal to set.  Having a small level of anxiety is okay – if we didn’t have that instinct to be worried, we wouldn’t know our boundaries. Boundaries that keep us safe, that keep us from hurting ourselves or doing something we’ll regret. It’s when the boundaries start to fall over the every day things, and the things that are definitely okay to try – that’s when we our focus, our mindfulness, can really help us manage this wave, these feelings.

When we’re caught in this cycle of negative self talk, or self doubt – it can feel really overwhelming. The things you’re thinking of, start to sound true – even when they’re not. There’s a lot of storytelling – I used to say to myself – am I writing a graphic novel here? – because I do think your anxiety starts to weave stories inside your mind, and it becomes a mini battle inside yourself, to figure out what the truth really is.

So for me personally, when I am in that anxious state – I try to remember that whatever the story is, whatever I’m focusing on – that’s what’s going to expand if I keep replaying the same stories. And again, I feel very lucky to be at this point with my anxiety and my mental health that I can recognise when I’m not just anxious – that this feels like a chemical imbalance, and not just me being worried – this has taken me many years of recognition, and therapy and mindfulness so please don’t think you’re doing anything wrong or different, we’re just all at different stages and have different ways to manage our mental health.

So as I was saying, once I start to realise that my focus is replaying these negative stories – I come back to my education about what an anxiety disorder is – I ground myself into reality as much as I can. My focus shifts from being very much inside my head and letting the stories develop – stories like ‘I’m losing my mind’ ‘I need to run’ ‘something is very wrong with me’ – to ‘tell yourself where you are right now’ ‘remember what is real’ and ‘you are safe.

Using Mindfulness this way has really helped me manage those times where I know something is different inside my body – but instead of reacting to it and trying to fix it as soon as I could – I give myself time to acknowledge that nothing is permanent and that if I knew that I was okay, that I was safe – that all I needed to do was let it pass – because those feelings for me do eventually leave without me doing anything huge to make it go away.

Focusing on your breath, going slow and grounding yourself is one of the first things you can do when you start to feel your anxiety bubble up. It’s not about trying to push away those feelings – but instead saying to yourself that it’s okay to feel how you feel, and at the same time – could we focus on what you already know about anxiety and how it effects your body and mind. Could we focus on where you are in the room, how you are breathing, how tense your hands are. Could you soften your muscles and take a deep slow breath through your nose. Could you focus on bringing your heart rate down and giving yourself the time to just hang out with your thoughts.

What you focus on will expand – if we can start to use mindfulness every day as practice, start learning about the science of anxiety – you will already have knowledge and skills with you to cope when your anxiety decides to show up again. This is your ground work, and why it’s so important to not just practice mindfulness when you’re anxious – practice it when you’re happy, especially when you’re doing something really awesome – sit back and just be. There’s nothing greater than acknowledging these moments because I think that’s when you truly become aware of your place in the world, while you are living it.

What you focus on expands.

How did this episode reasonate with you ? I know this was very mental health focused but I do hope someone comes along and finds this when they need it the most – that’s why I do what I do, and speak about things that might seem a little left of field – but I sincerely have gotten so much out of mindfulness for my own anxiety disorder, that if I can help 1 person then it’s worth it.

Let me know what you think by coming to find me on Instagram @makesunshineco – remember that if you would like to support the podcast and me, you can now join my Patreon where I am setting up monthly challenges based on mindset and mindfulness. I’d love to see you there, and get to know who my listeners are so make sure that when you join, you let me know that you’re a podcast listener.

Thanks so much for joining me again for another episode, I will speak to you all again next time!

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