Mind Session Two: Mindfulness & Social Anxiety

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1 Mind Session Two: Mindfulness & Social Anxiety Key Objectives of Mind Session Two: 1. Understand how mindfulness can be helpful for managing anxiety 2. Complete a further week of daily practice Mindfulness allows us to control our attention. But how does this help with social anxiety? Well to be able to manage social anxiety and regulate our emotions more effectively we need to be able to control what we pay attention to. And as you have already seen this includes being able to control what thoughts and internal sensations we pay attention to. Mindfulness is a skill that enables us to control our attention and pay attention to the present moment When it comes to anxiety, this is easy to say and hard to do. But the simple idea is that often we are imagining a fearful or anxiety provoking future, when it comes to social anxiety in particular. This is called anticipatory anxiety. If you re an hour or two away from a social engagement that causes you anxiety, then from the point of view of mindfulness, you re not at the party yet. Anxiety exists in the future, not in the present moment The difference between fear and anxiety is fear is a response to a present stimuli, something fearful is happening right now. Anxiety on the other hand is often about our fear of what is yet to happen. So mindfulness allows us to develop the capacity to just stay with what is happening in the moment. It s also true, and we know this from the science, that mindfulness increases our ability to regulate our emotions, or to say it another way, we get better at staying calm and not getting so upset about things. So when we do feel anxious, it is 1

2 not as intense and therefore less likely to be able to strongly influence our decisions in life. So the more we can control our attention, the more we are able to make choices about what we think about, we can regulate our emotional responses and stay away from anxiety provoking thoughts about the future. The most important thing is practice, practice, practice. The focus here is on doing the exercises, every day! Session two also includes seven mindfulness exercises, one per day for a week. You can do them more than once a day if you want, but just like exercise, don t over do it. All of this week s exercises are approximately three minutes in length. And once again underneath each of the exercises is some space to write some notes. I suggest you keep track of how you found each of these exercises and some observations as to what you noticed with each one. When we re learning any new skill or working towards a goal it can be really motivating to keep track of how we re going. Over time it will be helpful for you be able to look back and see the progress you ve made. I advise that before reading each of these, you use the supplied audio to practice and then complete the worksheet below. Exercise One: Observing and describing sounds Here we want to practice switching between just noticing sounds, without labeling or going into the story of the sound and using simple descriptions to just label the sounds as we hear them. This is different to getting into the story of the sound, and thinking about it. If your mind gets distracted we come back to just noticing the sense of hearing. The audio will guide you with the task of switching from observing to describing. What did you observe? How was it to switch from observing to describing? 2

3 Exercise two: Just observing smell In this exercise we use the physical sense of smell as an anchor for our attention. You need to prepare for this exercise by using something that has a fragrance. It can be a scented candle, a flower, vanilla essence or a cleaning product! Doesn t matter as long as it has a discernable smell. If your mind wanders we just bring it back to observing the sense of smell. What did you observe? How was it focus on observing a smell? Exercise three: Observing taste Here we just want to notice the sense of taste. Again you will need to prepare by just choosing a simple food to use as the point of focus. It can be just a grape, a raisin or a square of chocolate, what ever you prefer. We just allow ourselves to just notice. If your mind gets distracted we come back to just noticing the sense of taste. What did you observe? How was it focus on observing taste? 3

4 Exercise four: Observe and describe sight With this exercise we just want to observe and describe what we can see with the sense of sight. You can chose to focus on a picture, a view our your window, or if you find it easier you might want to use an object, like we did previously. Either way, keep bringing your mind and attention back to observing and describing with words what you see. What did you observe? Did you observe or describe more? Exercise five: Noticing physical sensations This exercise uses mindfulness skills to focus on the physical sensations of just sitting in a chair. The audio will guide you to just pay attention to the points of contact you make with the chair and to use this as a point of focus. What did you observe? Were you able to stay focussed on the physical sensations? 4

5 Exercise six: Sense switching The audio of this exercise will guide you through switching between paying attention to each of the five senses: sight; smell; taste; hearing; touch. If your mind wanders just bring your attention back to the using the sense as a point of focus. What did you observe? Did you find any of the 5 senses easier than the others? Exercise seven: Just observe the breath In this exercise we return to just paying attention to the breath. If your mind wanders (and it will) just return to the breath as your point of focus. Were you able to do the full minute? What did you observe? Was it any different this time just paying attention to the breath? Session Two Recap: - Do you feel you now understand the basic concept of how mindfulness can be useful for the management of anxiety? - Have you practiced mindfulness daily for a further seven days? If yes, then great! It s time to move onto Mind Session Three 5