Many people with a form of anxiety characterized by overworrying find that they spend an excessive amount of time pondering either the future or the past. New research published this month in Science suggests that doing so worsens our mood. Does this very human tendency to get caught up in thoughts about the past and future affect you?
Try an experiment: over the next hour, set a timer to go off every ten minutes. When it does, immediately ask yourself whether yours was a focused mind; what was it doing at the exact moment the timer went off? Were you ruminating about the past? Were you lost in thought about how you hope the future will be? Or were you totally focused on what you were doing? It takes practice to get better at focusing, i.e., not getting lost in thought. Practicing a focus on whatever you’re doing is a great way to accomplish this — whether you’re reading an article, eating a meal, or jogging down the street, you can look for moments when you’ve become distracted from what you’re doing, and resume your focus the activity. The best way I know to hone this skill is meditation.
(Originally published at http://www.anxiety-ocd.info/blog/2011/11/)