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Anxiety, Stress and Mindful Living

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Anxiety, Stress and Mindful Living

Katie Tankersly, LMSW

Behavioral Health Therapist

Clarity Health and Wellness – Newport

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present” (Keane, 1994).

It’s not uncommon these days to see quotes like this displayed in homes or shared on social media. While the message of these quotes may be a beautiful sentiment, for those with anxiety statements like these often come across as irritating platitudes rather than mottos that are easily implemented into daily life.

Anxiety is such a prevalent obstacle in the lives of many people, especially at this point in our world. Whether we are dealing with stress related to family, finances, a never-ending to-do list, illness or global chaos, we all experience anxiety on some level. Which raises the question, “Do the messages of these proverbs have any real substance when it comes to practically coping with anxiety, or are they simply charming decorations taking up space on the mantle?”

At some point in each of our lives, we have all come face to face with anxiety. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, “an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives” (National Institute on Mental Health, 2017). For some, it is an infrequent occurrence that flares up around the holidays. For others, it is a daily battle.

As someone who sees the different faces of anxiety on a daily basis, I can tell you that they come in many different forms. During a time when anxiety levels seem higher than ever before, it is crucial to find effective ways of managing it. This can be exceptionally challenging when many of us live in seemingly constant chaos, with comparison and impossible expectations smothering our day to day. While anxiety keeps us stuck in the past or fearing about the future, some of the most effective ways of coping with anxiety really do focus on changing our perspective. When we recognize the gift of the present moment, we can face the inevitable curveballs of life with greater peace.

As with anything in life, change is work. Anxiety reducing techniques are not a quick fix. Even though they take practice and persistence in order to see lasting effect, I have seen firsthand how hard work and striving towards mental wellness changes lives for the better. My hope is that the suggestions listed here will be a good start. I hope we can all realize we are not alone in the battle against anxiety and that we can all be a little kinder and gentler with ourselves and those around us as we all strive towards more mindful living.

Katie Tankersly, LMSW

Behavioral Health Therapist

Clarity Health and Wellness - Newport

Five Senses Mindfulness Exercise:

❖ Take three slow deep breaths.

❖ List five things you see.

❖ List four things you hear.

❖ List three things you feel.

❖ List two things you smell.

❖ List one thing you taste.

❖ List one thing good about yourself.

❖ List one thing you are grateful for today.

Coping Strategies

Practice relaxation and mindfulness:

Relaxation exercises can be extremely effective in re-orienting to the present and reversing the negative effects of anxiety. It’s important to remember that these exercises may not have an instant effect. For those that live with chronic anxiety, these techniques take time and practice to re-train the mind and body.

Things to practice:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

Resources to help:

  • YouTube meditation videos
  • Calm and Headspace apps
  • Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel

Develop a self-care routine:

Chronic anxiety can often build up to an exhausting and frustrating daily routine, leading to further mental and physical difficulties. Developing a self-care routine of healthy exercise, diet, sleep, hobbies, and self-compassion can improve mood, relieve anxious energy, and support mindful living.

Things to practice:

  • Goal setting
  • Time management
  • Journaling
  • Developing new hobbies
  • Taking time for yourself

Resources to help:

  • MyFitnessPal app
  • Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel
  • SMART goal setting app

Practice changing perspective:

Many of our anxious thoughts are based on faulty perceptions we have developed from a painful past. As with every new skill, changing perspective also takes time and practice to recognize irrational worries and develop an appreciation of living in the present.

Things to practice:

  • Gratitude journaling
  • Challenge irrational thoughts
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Resources to help:

  • MoodKit app
  • Gratitude Journal app

Unity Health offers Behavioral Health services for ages four and older, including counseling, psychiatric care and medication management. Some specific areas of treatment include depression, anxiety, grief, life stressors, trauma and psychosis. Outpatient services are offered at Clarity Health & Wellness in

Cabot, Newport, and Searcy. Inpatient services include Courage – Adolescent Behavioral Health for adolescents ages 12 to 17 in Searcy; Compass – Adult Behavioral Health for ages 18 and older in Newport and Searcy; and Clearview – Senior Behavioral Health in Newport and Searcy for those ages 55 and older. For inpatient referrals call toll free (844) 255-8229 or for more information visit