3 Powerful Ways to Manage Anxiety With Mindful Drawing
So many of us don’t manage anxiety while it’s a yellow flag. We ignore the warning signs til we’re stuck in the red zone. It just kind of creeps up.
Anxiety is a mental health issue that’s becoming increasingly common and it’s horribly uncomfortable. It’s a mind program where we get stuck in loops of overthinking.
Often we worry about things that haven’t happened yet – our thoughts are literally leaking out into the future and we flavour those thoughts with big, grey slatherings of pessimism.
I used to worry I’d never be happy again. Or that I’d never be able to kick addiction. Often I’d worry that I was going to get evicted because I spent all my money on drugs and gambling. I’d always worry that the spot on my leg/arm/wherever is skin cancer. I worry when I don’t hear from my sister/brother/Mum/friend within a certain time frame, I used to think something horrible must have happened.
And because it’s rooted in anxiety, you don’t think about it ONCE, it replays itself on a loop because it’s stuck on repeat. It ain’t fun.
These days I don't suffer from anxiety because now I can see the program running. This enable to you change the program.
Before awareness, anxiety runs as a pesky program we’re not conscious of – we’re just stuck with it. For many of us it gets so out of hand it consumes us and robs us of our enjoyment in life.
When you train your mind to exist in the present moment, you begin to manage anxiety because both cannot exist in the same space. You cannot be worrying about the future if your mind is anchored right here in the present moment.
There are many highly regarded studies showing how mindfulness practices help to manage anxiety. By bringing your mind right back to focus on NOW, you cancel out its pesky program, and by doing it repeatedly, you retrain your brain.
Mindful drawing helps manage anxiety in three ways:
Firstly, it teaches you to focus on what you are drawing.
Every time your mind wanders out of the present moment and into thoughts, worries or regrets – you gently bring your attention right back to what you are drawing. Repeatedly.
By doing this, you are training your mind to anchor into the present moment. Through repetition, this new habit will gradually override the old one and it’ll go with you out into the real world, away from your mindful drawing session.
When you repeatedly exercise your mind-muscles to BE HERE NOW through focus and attention, you are creating new neural pathways in your brain. You are literally redesigning the behaviour of your brain and nervous system. Teaching you to be here in the present moment is one way mindful drawing works to manage anxiety.
The second way mindful drawing helps to manage anxiety, is by teaching you to become the observer of your thoughts.
Rather than being stuck with anxiety, you can observe the anxiety. Now you can pull your thoughts and attention back, but you also can see where they keep heading to – what kind of thoughts. How many times are you worrying. Is it productive?
Your thought patterns are no longer this unconscious, behind-the-curtains process. We’ve dragged it out into the conscious mind – where you can see it.
Stepping into observer mode, shows you that you have a choice. You are NOT your anxiety. It’s simply a program that runs, and you can change the way the program runs.
Lastly, mindful drawing helps manage anxiety because it slows the mind down.
Your brain will entrain with this slower pace that you set. Through repetition again, your brain will stop running fast on the broken record of “What ifs”, because you’ve changed the pace of the program. It’s literally like a breath of mental fresh air.
Now, when anxious thoughts pop in, you’ll recognise it.
You’ll observe it. You’ll get to know it – you’ll come to understand it’s one voice of our fears – it has no basis in fact. We acknowledge our fears. But we know the voice for our fears is not required here, so we consciously choose to let these thoughts float away like a cloud, and now we have solid techniques to do it.
And anyway – if that thing that you’re anxious about ends up actually happening, like FOR REAL? Deal with it then! That way you don’t have to deal with it twice (or fifty times if it’s a persistent mental program).
Mindful drawing can help you manage anxiety, even if you have an odd random drawing session here and there. But the real power lies with consistent practice. Repetition is what rewires the brain. This is what creates lasting beneficial behaviours.
But the first step to manage anxiety, is to realise that you are the boss of your mind. Your anxiety is not you. It’s just a program – and you have the power to change your programs.