External mindfulness for anxiety


Did you know that treatment for social anxiety has many useful strategies to help one manage their anxiety? One of these is called External Mindfulness. This is paying attention with curiosity in the conversation, person, activity and/or situation in the present moment, while treating your thoughts and feelings like background noise. An individual may be given homework or practice in session to get absorbed, or lost in a conversation or activity. They are told to practice focusing on what they see and hear using their senses (touch, taste, smell), rather than what they feel and think. This helps them learn how to get out of their head and into the moment.


Panic Disorder VS Social Anxiety

There are different types of anxiety disorders and for this discussion, it’s important to make the distinction between these two.

Panic Disorder

People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the “panic attacks” they experience mean something is physically very wrong with them. Their panic attacks can happen without warning and the trigger can oftentimes be unknown or seemingly come out of nowhere. Panic attacks can also cause physical symptoms for instance, many sufferers believe they are having a heart attack. Some may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath are a result of some serious and undiagnosed illness. Treatment for panic disorder can include antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy along with mindfulness techniques.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

People with social anxiety disorder experience anxiety when faced with social situations. Their trigger is often known and is centered around a perceived threat of being judged or evaluated. They do not believe their anxiety is related to an illness or disease, yet have little control over their fear of social interactions. Their anxiety becomes debilitating when the person feels they may be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder will do anything to alleviate their fear. This means decreasing the amount of social interactions they have daily as much as possible. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s ability to emotionally connect with others, and holds them back in their career and academic life. Safety behaviors are performed that help the individual avoid their triggers in the short term but ultimately prevent them from facing their fears.


The main point to get across here is this:

It is normal to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety daily, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health or are compromising your career and personal relationships is not normal.

Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

No one should have to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. The good news is, anxiety disorders are treatable. A therapist can help to uncover the root cause of the fear and provide tools and strategies to cope such as using external mindfulness. Additionally, research shows that social anxiety is the one anxiety that is most responsive to treatment alone without the use of medication. Along with mindfulness a widely used and research-based treatment called CBT helps people to recognize and alter their anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Since Social anxiety is based in shame and the fear of being judged CBT focuses on replacing these maladaptive, unhelpful beliefs.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact Minds at Peace today. We would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to help.

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