Humans have a natural desire to want to help family members or loved ones who are going through a difficult time. You may be in one such situation with a friend who has anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue. There are some definite ways that you can be very supportive and helpful, but first, a caveat. Your natural inclination to reassure them and provide every possible assistance may not always be the right course of action. You might end up doingmore harm than good with constant reassurances and never-ending offers of help. Even worse, when all this well-meaning support doesn’t produce any positive results, you might become frustrated and worn out.
Therefore, this article is a balanced discussion of some tactics which can be helpful to a friend or loved one suffering from an anxiety disorder, without reaching that point of diminishing return.
What is an anxiety disorder?
People with anxiety disorders frequently experience panic, fear, and other physical and mental symptoms as responses to certain situations. Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety attacks can be nearly indistinguishable from serious physical ailments like heart attacks.
You’ve heard that being mindful can help you in a variety of situations. It helps reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and makes it easier for you to enjoy what’s going on in your present. One of the easiest ways to get into mindfulness is to start with mindful breathing.
By understanding how breathing exercises help you be more mindful and give you several health benefits, and by learning about different types of breathing exercises you can do, you can figure out which ones to try, and which ones to use when you’re experiencing distress.
Why They Work
Breathing exercises are some of the easiest ways to get into being mindful. One of the biggest benefits of taking the time to breathe is that it calms your fight, flight, or freeze reflex. Deep breaths give our brain the ability to calm this response by helping our amygdala see that we are safe from harm.
Mindfulness, the practice of bringing your mind into the present moment, is a powerful tool to help you discover during the craziness of the day. If you haven’t thought about adding it to your everyday life, it may be time to reconsider.
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that TED has invited multiple notable speakers to share their experiences with mindfulness. Be inspired to incorporate mindfulness in your daily routine with a few of these powerful TED Talks about mindfulness, meditation, and discovering calm in your life.
1. “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes” – Andy Puddicombe
As the CEO of Headspace, the popular meditation app, Andy Puddicombe knows the importance of meditation and mindfulness. Your brain is your body’s most powerful instrument, yet we rarely take time to recharge it. Fortunately, if you have just ten minutes to spare, you have plenty of time to take care of your brain…all you need to do is practice mindfulness.
2. “The art of stillness” – Pico Iyer
Travel writer Pico Iyer knows that one of life’s greatest luxuries is empty space. In this talk, he shares his experiences in stillness and going “nowhere.” He knows that to truly enjoy life’s experiences, you must truly pay attention, and that you can only really pay attention when you slow down.
3. “The practice of mindfulness” – Diana Winston
Diana Winston is the director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Center. Before that, she was a Buddhist monk; she has more than 20 years of experience in the study and practice of mindfulness. In her talk, she starts with the story of her first attempt at mindfulness and goes on to discuss how it has profoundly impacted her life. She explains that just a few moments of mindfulness can create a lasting impact on our everyday lives and relationships.
4. “Mindfulness and Healing” – Shannon Paige
Shannon Paige battled cervical cancer and won, but then found herself up against different beasts – depression and anxiety. She discovered yoga, not as a cure for depression, but as a way to get back into her body and change the mind. Through this, she found mindfulness can create a state of empowerment, stability, and release.
5. “The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger” – Shauna Shapiro
Dr. Shauna Shapiro knows that being in the present moment can be tough. But she also knows that being more mindful can be transformative. She uses modern neuroscience and ancient wisdom to show how mindfulness can help make positive changes in our brains and our lifestyles.
6. “Don’t try to be mindful” – Daron Larson
It’s easy to get frustrated with practicing mindfulness if you don’t instantly feel results.
Daron Larson practiced mindfulness for 13 years and felt it slowly transform his life – he just had to stop looking for the results to start to see them. Here, he talks about how mindfulness helps us burst out of the narrative restraints we put on ourselves and accept obstacles as part of our lives. Stop checking out when it gets hard. Tune in and practice mindfulness instead.
7. “The habits of happiness” – Matthieu Ricard
What does mindfulness have to do with happiness? Buddhist monk, author, and photographer Matthieu Ricard has devoted his life to the pursuit of happiness. In this talk, he shares his findings on meditation, mindfulness, and training the brain to become happier. If you could create a path towards happiness, wouldn’t you?
Once these TED Talks have inspired you to start on your mindfulness journey, you can begin with this guide. You can also find guided meditations with renowned leaders Thich Nhat Hanh and Deepak Chopra. To discover even more calm in your life and better manage stress, use Spire to give you a gentle reminder to bring mindfulness to your breath.
At Spire, we’re constantly looking for innovative ways we can help our users integrate mindfulness into their busy lifestyles– the real-time Breath Guide gives us a really unique opportunity in this area. After listening to your feedback, we realized that putting in headphones during a stressful situation wasn’t always feasible, so we sought to harness the breath visually in the most immersive way we could imagine.Read more
You’re busy. You go from meeting to meeting, then to your workout, then out with friends. It’s hard to carve out time to meditate. We all know mindfulness has proven benefits, but how do we go about fitting it into our normal everyday hectic lifestyles? Below are four tools you can use to squeeze meditation into even the busiest of schedules. They’re ordered by the amount of time they take, from shortest to longest, and they’ll all help you boost productivity, establish calm, and live your best self. Read more
Here at Spire we love what we do, and hear all the time how we’re changing people’s lives for the better, helping them become calmer, more present and aware of their breath. Below are some stories from users about how Spire has helped them, and how they are using the tool in their everyday lives. Read more
When our users first try out Spire, there is usually a range of emotional feedback. Below is what a new user learned after her first week with Spire.
I started using Spire about a week ago. It’s been great, but I’m almost embarrassed to admit what I’ve learned so far. My first day of using it was a Thursday, and not a day I thought was particularly stressful. I put the Spire on in the morning, clipped into onto my pants and noticed that I started out the day mostly focused, and calm. But then I was surprised that pretty much the minute I opened my computer, my Spire let me know I was tense. I didn’t feel particularly tense, going through my regular routine of emails, but once I started to pay attention I did notice a tightness in my chest. Read more