5 Mindfulness Exercises To Manage Anxiety
It goes without saying that anxiety is overwhelming. In a few quick moments, you can transition from one thought of “What if?” to an out of control whirlwind of worry. Getting yourself back to a calm state of mind can feel impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. The next time you struggle with feelings of anxiety, try these five mindfulness exercises to ground yourself and reclaim a sense of serenity.
1. Focus on your breathing. When anxious, your body is on high alert. This can lead to an increase in heart rate as well as your breathing. Depending on the severity of your anxiety you may also experience shortness of breath or tightness in your chest. Take a few moments to pause and focus on slowing your breathing. Breathe in slowly, counting to three. Exhale fully, counting to six. Repeat this exercise until you feel your body begin to calm and slow down to its regular, resting state.
2. Use your senses. Bring yourself out of the what-if world and back to reality with this simple grounding exercise. Silently to yourself, study the area around you and notice one thing you see, one thing you hear, one thing you smell, and one thing you feel (this can be something like temperature or the texture of your clothing). Feel free to repeat this exercise a few times if you need to.
3. Take a short meditation break. Set a timer for two to five minutes and choose an image to focus on that makes you feel peaceful. For example, you may choose a comforting space in your life or something like the beach. Close your eyes and focus on this image. How many details can you create with your mind? What colors do you see? What sounds exist in this place? What smells? If your mind wanders, don’t worry. Simply redirect your thoughts to your chosen focus.
4. Move your body. The hormones released during exercise are a perfect antidote to built up anxiety. If you have the time, go for a walk or jog or maybe hit the gym. If you are at work or have too tight a schedule for an extended break, do something quick and simple to ground your body. Try a few short sun salutations, take a five minute walk, or do some simple standing stretches. Getting yourself moving will help you get back in the moment and release some healthy endorphins.
5. Get artistic. There’s a reason why art therapy is so popular. Finding an artistic outlet for your emotions can help you to expel negative feelings while creating something beautiful. How you express yourself is up to you. Maybe you enjoy poetry, or perhaps you prefer music or drawing. You can even invest in a few adult coloring books if you’re looking for something that is friendly to the less naturally artistic. Try choosing a color scheme that matches how you are feeling, or one that matches the positive feelings you want to nurture.
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