Anxiety and Stress: Wake-Up Calls

Garrett avoids parties because he knows how uncomfortable he will be: standing around with a bunch of strangers, trying to make small talk. Ever since Rebecca heard about layoffs two weeks ago she’s been distraught, afraid she’s going to lose her job. Carmen, an accountant, is overwhelmed. Her mother was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, right in the middle of tax season.

When life seems to be conspiring against us, making excuses, complaining, or looking for someone to blame doesn’t help. So how do we deal with these challenges? There are no Band-Aid solutions, but what we can do is…prepare for more of the unexpected and the unknown. One way we can do this is through mindfulness practice. We cultivate present-moment awareness, groundedness, a greater connection to the environment, non-judgment, and friendliness towards ourselves. We begin to discover that we don’t need to keep running away from anxiety. We can actually get to know it, counterintuitive as that may seem. We see that it’s part of life–not something to be exiled–but, at the same time, we don’t have to magnify it, adding more fuel to the fire. Awareness helps us see the habitual patterns we repeat over and over again that lead to suffering. In fact, we can start doing some things differently.

Research has shown that meditation-based mindfulness practice can be helpful for people who are experiencing stress* as well as various forms of problematic anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder**, social anxiety disorder***, and panic disorder****.

Navigating Anxiety and Stress through Mindfulness is an eight-week mindfulness-awareness meditation-based program Andrew Safer has been presenting in St. John’s, Newfoundland since 2013–recently expanded to 10 weeks. The weekly sessions meet via Zoom video conferencing, so people can participate from any location. The sessions include instruction and guidance in mindfulness-awareness meditation and mindfulness-in-everyday-life practices, discussion both in pairs and with the group, presentation on a theme, readings, and worksheet completion. Participants agree to confidentiality.

Themes include:

– Introduction to Mindfulness and Anxiety / Stress
– Key Elements of Mindfulness and Awareness
– Anxiety: Imagination vs. Reality
– Stress: Responding vs. Reacting
– Attention: Our Precious Resource
– Working with Fear and Fearlessness
– Basic Goodness: A Breath of Fresh Air

Participant comments and evaluation data indicate strong outcomes for those who have completed the program. The first live video conferencing-based series of this program, streamlined for the Web, began on May 24th. Zoom video conferencing enables anyone to participate from any location via computer, cell phone, or tablet. Questions, or to Register for a future workshop series: Contact Andrew.

*Grossman, Paul, et al., “Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis”, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol. 57, Issue 1, Jul 2004, 35-43.
**Hoffmann, Stefan, et al., “The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review”, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 78(2), Apr 2010, 169-183.
***Goldin, Philippe and Gross, James, “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder”, Emotion, Vol. 10(1), Feb 2010, 83-91.
****Kim, Yong Woo, et al., “Effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as an adjuvant to pharmacotherapy in patients with panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder”, Depression and Anxiety, Vol. 26, Issue 7, Jul 2009, 601-606.

(c) Andrew Safer 2017





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