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Mindfulness for Anxiety
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and many people—dialysis patients, caregivers and staff alike—are currently feeling anxious due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Mindfulness may help with anxiety by focusing on the present moment, as dwelling on the past or projecting about the future is likely to increase stress levels. In this post, we provide information on mindfulness, including a definition of what mindfulness is and a quick exercise that you can do yourself or guide others through to potentially reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness may sound mysterious and remote, like something
a guru sitting in a lotus position on top of a mountain would practice.
However, in reality, mindfulness is a way of being that is down to earth and
practical, with tangible benefits. In fact, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founded
in 1979 the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the
University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical Center to help patients with
chronic pain and stress. The eight-week program created by Dr. Kabat-Zinn has
since been adapted and reported in clinical studies
to help ease anxiety, depression, stress related to medical conditions and stress
in healthy people. Below are quotes from Kabat-Zinn and another renowned teacher
in the field, Ram Dass that can serve as definitions of mindfulness.
is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present
-Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
Meditation teacher, Professor of Medicine
Emeritus and founder of the MBSR Clinic
and the Center for Mindfulness at UMass
“Be here now.”
-Ram Dass, PhD
Spiritual teacher and former
Simply by being present, in the now and aware of your surroundings can be a practice in mindfulness. The exercise that follows can be used to guide an individual in staying grounded and mindful.
- Close your eyes or gaze softly at a blank spot on the wall.
- Gently take 3 deep breaths, saying to yourself, “in” during the inhale and “out” on the exhale.
- Open your eyes, look around the room or your immediate surroundings and note 4 things that are yellow (or another color).
- Pay attention to how your body feels and note 3 physical sensations (such as, how the air or your clothes feels on your skin, any aches or pains, tension or relaxation).
- Listen to the environment and note 2 sounds that you hear.
- Focus on your sense of smell and taste, then note one thing that you smell in the air and one thing you taste in your mouth.
Do not worry if you cannot find the number of sensory items mentioned in the exercise. The point is to shift your focus from your thoughts of worry or anxiety to an objective observation of yourself and the immediate environment in the here and now.
Other guided experiences (videos) in mindfulness and relaxation, as well as new emotional support resources for patients, are available by visiting DaVita.com/Coping.