Anxiety can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, the more you try to control anxiety, the worse it can get. There are many different approaches to managing anxiety, but two common ones you have probably heard of are mindfulness and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
A helpful way to think about the difference between mindfulness and EMDR is that mindfulness is a tool to manage anxiety in the present, and EMDR is a therapy that helps get to the root of that anxiety.
Mindfulness can be used in many different forms and be practiced in different ways, but it is a mental state and practice of paying deliberate and non-judgmental attention to the present moment. It is being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. The benefits of mindfulness are many. They can include reducing stress and anxiety, improving your management of difficult emotions, and increasing self-awareness. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, but some of the most common techniques include deep breathing, body scans, meditation, and mindful walking. Mindfulness is a helpful tool to have as it can be practiced both in the therapy setting and on your own in everyday life.
EMDR is another, more structured approach to mental health and well-being under the guidance of a trained therapist. EMDR is an evidenced-based, psychotherapy initially created to treat trauma that has since been shown to be effective for other mental health struggles, such as anxiety, depression, and anger. The main goal of EMDR is to process distressing memories and get to the root cause of emotional distress and discomfort by using bilateral stimulation (BLS), such as side to side eye movements. Research has shown that this process changes the way that memories are stored in the brain and decreases the symptoms, reactions, and feelings of distress caused by these memories and events.
How can EMDR and mindfulness work together?
So how can these two work together? Part of EMDR treatment involves learning specific evidence-based mindfulness strategies for managing current anxiety. The goal of EMDR is to reprocess distressing memories, and mindfulness can be a tool to help manage the emotions that arise during EMDR. Mindfulness can be used both within and between EMDR sessions, as well as following treatment in everyday life.
If you feel stuck in a rut in life and/or therapy or just want to try something new, EMDR, especially with the incorporation of mindfulness, can provide some of the most effective, evidence-based relief.