You may have heard of mindfulness meditation or mindfulness stress-reduction techniques, but do you want to know about the effect which mindfulness has on anxiety, stress relief, and the overall mental health and wellbeing?
This article will explore the benefits of mindfulness for treating and controlling anxiety, as well as the different techniques, exercises, and mediations that you can try yourself.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the intentional practice of focusing on the present without judgment and avoiding the worrying thoughts about the past or the future.
Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, eating, walking, listening, and different mindfulness exercises and training.
Mindfulness comes from the ancient Sati Buddhist tradition and is based on Vipassana, Zen, and some Tibetan meditation techniques.
Today, more people are taking courses in mindfulness meditation and techniques in order to deal with the stress of everyday life, with anxiety, with drug addiction, eating disorders, and psychiatric disorders and with other mental and physical issues.
One of the best-known programs founded by Jon Kabat-Zin called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which can teach people to develop a “kind awareness and acknowledgment” to the anxious feelings or the stress felt by them, rather than trying to fight them off or become even more stressed or worried.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which was founded based on the 8-week MBSR program, is used for the treatment of depression and other various health conditions and mental problems.
How can mindfulness help relieve anxiety?
Using mindfulness to treat anxiety attacks, reduce anxiety, and manage anxiety disorder can be done through various practices and techniques.
In general, mindfulness will help people suffering from anxiety by:
- Learning how to acknowledge the worrying and other painful feelings, memories and thoughts but without judging, analyzing, encouraging or suppressing them
- Allowing for the safe exploration of the underlying causes for the anxiety, rather than fighting the feelings
- Creating a sense of spaciousness surrounding the anxiety and the worries
Overall, the idea of practicing mindfulness for anxiety is learning how to acknowledge and let your worrying feelings be, rather than trying to run away from them. This can eventually lead to understanding them better and feeling less anxious.
Rather than trying to change the actual situation, you can learn how to improve your emotional response to it through mindfulness techniques.
If you are having problems understanding how acknowledging and allowing negative emotions can help tackle your anxiety, keep in mind the following:
- Allowing the negative feelings to appear and exist does not mean that you are giving up or are helpless. On the contrary, by accepting these emotions, you can learn how to deal with them, and let them pass. With mindfulness practice, you will learn to recognize the presence of anxiety and other negative emotions before actually choosing how you will respond to them. This is a difficult step to learn but it is essential if you want to use mindfulness for anxiety, panic or stress relief successfully.
- If you are not willing to experience the symptoms of anxiety and all the negative thoughts, feelings and sensations associated with it, and do everything possible to avoid and fight them, then you may actually worsen your condition. If, on the contrary, you allow them to occur, you may be able to gradually learn how to break your brain’s habitual response to them and start acknowledging them, instead of reacting instinctively to them.
- Practicing acceptance can help you get through every anxiety attack and every unpleasant experience. Allowing a negative experience and “letting it be” can in fact help you pass through all kinds of painful experiences much easier and with much more care toward yourself. Acceptance does require a lot of practice before you start acknowledging that the anxiety is back instead of starting to panic and giving up to the fear and the worries.
Four mindful things to do to stop or calm anxiety right now
If you are currently feeling increased anxiety, here are the immediate mindfulness exercises which you can perform to get instant relief:
- Explore your breathing. If it is shallow and fast, and you are feeling the onset of panic, then you can relax your body by performing a simple breathing exercise, which consists of:
- Place the palm of your hand on your belly below the ribcage
- Start inhaling slowly through the nose while counting to 4
- Hold the breath in for 1 second
- Then exhale slowly through the mouth while counting to 4
This will help normalize your breathing, and counterattack the hyperventilation which is one of the leading causes of the frightening symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack
- Try focusing on your body, and taking your mind off the panic and anxiety by engaging your senses in one of the following ways:
- Perform a body scan by laying down with your eyes closed and exploring any sensations that you are feeling from the toes of the feet up to the head
- Check if you are feeling tension in any part of the body – perform this check once every hour, and if you feel tenseness try to relieve it by adjusting your posture, your breathing or by stretching
- Try to acknowledge what the positive effects of feeling good are on your body – does it relax you, does it make you smile, or anything else. This will make you want to feel good more often
- Increase your emotional intelligence, by acknowledging any clues which your body is giving when you are experiencing different types of emotions
- Stand like a superhero in a cape for a couple of minutes – stand up straight, with your hands on your waist, your chest and chin upright. This will help reduce stress and can increase your confidence
- Nurture your heart by placing both palms of the hands on top of it and thinking about somebody you love or something that makes you smile
- Move your body by performing gentle stretches and twists, and by changing your posture
- Laugh as much as you can whenever you can
- Try to smile more every day
- Support and perfect mindfulness to explore your attitude and decrease anxiety by:
- Bringing intention to decrease the anxiety and bring upon peace of mind
- Meeting anxiety with a “beginners mind” and exploring it with a new curiosity
- Practicing patience which will help you get through anxious times, and give you are a broader perspective about a brighter future
- Acknowledging your anxiety as it is
- Taking a nonjudgmental position regarding your feelings of anxiety
- Being non-striving, and not trying to change or challenge your experience, instead of trying to flee from it or fight it
- Learning to be self-reliant to cope with the feelings of anxiety by turning towards your feelings and acknowledging them
- Being allowing and just riding on top of the wave of anxiety until it passes
- Being self-compassionate and learning that you are there for yourself when panic or anxiety strikes
- Practicing self-control and balance so that you can get a broader perspective on your anxiety and all emotions you experience with it
If these terms and attitudes seem a bit far stretched and unclear at first, you can begin applying them by simply trying to focus more on all the sensations which your body goes through when you are anxious, and allow yourself to think all of those worrying and distressing thoughts.
Once you learn how to recognize and acknowledge them, you may come to the realization that they are exaggerated or not true, and may be able to let go of them.
Mindfulness will allow you to interrupt the all-natural “fight or flight” reaction of the body, which can lead to a deepening of the anxiety and bring upon panic.
Here are some exercises and some practical advice on learning and perfecting mindfulness to combat anxiety, stress, and panic
If you want to find out more about the mindfulness exercises, meditation, and other practices and tips which you can learn and practice at home, or use mindfulness every time you are feeling anxiety or stress creeping up on you, read on.
Try out the mindfulness activities from group mindfulness therapy
Group therapy, which includes mindfulness meditation and exercises, has been found to be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and other related issues.
One of the most popular group therapy mindfulness-based treatment programs was developed by Fleming and Kochovski and is aimed at tackling and reducing social anxiety. The therapy sessions are provided for groups of 8 people who meet for two hours a week for a period of 12 weeks.
Here are the exercises included in this mindfulness group therapy treatment program which you can try yourself:
Mindful raisin eating exercise
As strange as it may sound, the raisin exercise is one of the best basic mindfulness exercises for beginners.
Although it is called a raisin exercise, it can actually be practiced with any type of food. The raisin, though is considered perfect because of its intriguing texture, taste, shape, color, and smell.
The therapist provides the members of the group with some raisins and asks them to pretend and act like this is the first time they are seeing, touching, smelling or tasting a raisin.
The members of the group are asked to pay special attention to:
- How the raisin looks
- What it feels like
- How their skin responds to touching and squeezing the raisin
- How it smells
- How it is positioned when you put it in your mouth
- How it tastes when you try it and chew it
- What it feels like to swallow it
- What the follow-up feeling after swallowing it
The goal of this mindfulness exercise is to bring the minds of the members to the present and to what they are presented with at the moment, by asking them to focus on a single simple raisin.
Even if you love raisins and eat them often, you will be amazed at the senses you will acknowledge when you focus on a single one and all of its features one by one.
This exercise will also teach you to take the time and to notice the things in the present.
By spending time and energy focusing on the raisin, you will most likely stop worrying about other problems and anxious thoughts.
If you feel like your mind is wandering during this exercise, then try to guide it back and to focus it on the task of examining and exploring the raisin.
The body scan meditation
This is another popular mindfulness exercise used for beginners and for everybody who wants to learn how to cope with anxiety, stress, and emotional as well as the physical associated with them. Some of the physical symptoms of being stressed or overly anxious may include back pain, heartburn, headaches, and others.
The body scan meditation is relatively easy to practice without any complicated tools or props needed.
It is an act of scanning yourself, just like a scanner would scan every line of a printed page.
If you want to get guidance for trying out and practicing the body scan mindfulness meditation, you can use the audio recording of a body scan meditation session by the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Jon Kabat Zin here.
In order to do this 30-minute meditation, you will need to follow the following steps:
- Lay on your back with the palms of your hands facing upwards and your feet lying at a comfortable distance apart. You can also do this meditation exercise while sitting in a comfortable armchair with your feet resting on the floor.
- You will have to prepare yourself to remain in the same position for the next 30 or so minutes. If you feel the need to move, you must try to do it with awareness.
- You will be guided through this gradual body scan by the therapist. At the same time, you will be asked to try to bring awareness to your breathing. Noting its rhythm and focusing on the inhaling and exhaling of the air from your lungs. You will not be asked to change your breathing, and to stay aware of it throughout the scan instead.
- The therapist will ask you to pay attention to your body. This includes observing how your clothes feel on your skin, the contours of the body while it is resting, its temperature, and the surroundings.
- You will then be asked to focus your awareness on any parts of your body which feel sore, which feel way too heavy or too light or are tingling. You will be asked to point out whether there are parts of your body that are not sensitive at all at the moment, as well as those parts which are overly sensitive during the meditation.
The actual body scan will cover every single part of your body, and you will be guided to pay attention to the way each part and area feels. The scan will move slowly from the toes and move gradually towards your head. If your mind wanders during the meditation, you will need to gently guide it back to focus on the scan and your body.
You can expect to have to scan your:
- Your toes
- The rest of your feet
- Your ankles
- The lower legs
- Your knees
- Your thighs
- The buttocks, pelvic bone, tailbone and genitals
- Your abdomen
- Your chest
- Your lower back
- Your back ribs and shoulder blades
- Your fingers, palms, the back of your hands and your wrists
- Your arms including the lower arms, elbows and upper arms
- Your neck
- Your face and your head, including the jaw, mouth, cheeks, nose, eyes, ears, the forehead, your scalp, and the top and the back of your head
- Your “blow hole” based on Fleming and Kocovski in 2007
After the body scan meditation exercise is over, you can open your eyes and move back to a comfortable sitting position when you feel ready.
The body scan exercise has numerous benefits and is an excellent way to get introduced to mindfulness. By learning how to perform the body scan meditation, you will learn the following aspects of mindfulness:
- Letting be
- Learning how to lean on discomfort and on unpleasant sensations
- Appreciation of the phenomenon of being alive and of the actuality of the moment
- Getting unstuck from wrong assumptions about how things are in reality
After the Body Scan is complete, and the participants feel ready to come back to the room, they can slowly open their eyes and move naturally to a comfortable sitting position.
The mindful seeing exercise
Meditation is not always sitting or lying with your eyes closed, which is the reason why many people do not want to practice it or find it unpleasant or pointless.
With the mindful seeing exercise, everybody can participate, even those who loathe or do not have the patience for traditional meditation.
This is a very simple exercise which requires only a window with a view of some kind.
Here are the steps for practicing mindful seeing:
- Sit or stand by a window so that you have a clear view of everything which can be seen outside.
- Look at everything that you can see, but try to stay away from placing names on the objects. So, instead of labeling them as “man,” “bird,” or “tree,” try to focus on and notice their colors, textures and patterns.
- Focus on the movement of the branches, leaves, grass, or flowers outside. Note all of the different shapes which you can see from the limited view of the window. Then try to “see” what is going on outside of the window, but try to do it as somebody who is not aware of the setting and the sight.
- Try to be as observant as possible, but without being critical. Also, stay aware but without being fixated on the objects and the sight.
- If you find that your mind is wandering off, gently pull it back from the disrupting thoughts and try focusing it on all of the shapes, colors, patterns, and textures outside of the window.
With the mindful seeing exercise, you will be able to practice mindfulness meditation but without the usual struggles, it poses for many people.
Learning how to see mindfully will help you learn how to direct your mind to something else rather than to your own thoughts, anxiety, and internal monologues.
You will learn how to shift your perspective to something outside of you instead of dwelling on your thoughts, which keep invading your mind.
When you learn how to see mindfully, you will be able to practice this technique anywhere you are and may be able to divert the fear, worries and disturbing thoughts associated with your anxiety. This is also a particularly useful exercise to perform if you feel like a panic attack is creeping up on you.
The mindful listening exercise
Learning mindful listening is especially important in the busy world which we live in today. Listening to someone mindfully means to be able to shut out all other distractions which surround you and to remain open to what the person is saying and to his or her ideas.
You can significantly improve your listening skills, which is important not only for people who suffer from social or other types of anxiety but for just about anybody.
All people want to be fully heard and seen. With this exercise, you can learn who to stop focusing on your own thoughts and your own response to what somebody is saying to you, and just listen to their message.
Here are the steps to follow when performing the mindful listening exercise with your group:
- All group members are asked to think about one thing which is stressing them out, and of one thing which they are looking forward to.
- When everyone is ready, the members of the group take turns to share their stories with the others.
- The therapist or guide will ask each of the members to direct their attention to how it feels to speak in front of all others, how it feels to talk about something that is stressing them out, and also how it feels to speak about something positive they are looking forward to.
- All participants will be asked to observe what they feel and what their bodies feel when they are listening to someone speaking, and when they themselves are talking.
- At the end of the exercise, after everyone has shared their thoughts, the members of the group can form smaller groups in which they will need to answer specific questions, which can be followed by a discussion. Here are the questions which every member will have to answer:
- How did you feel when speaking?
- How did you feel when listening to the other members?
- Did you notice any wandering of your mind during the exercise?
- If your mind did wander off, what was the specific distraction?
- How did you get your attention back to the exercise and to the present?
- Did you mentally judge anybody while listening to them?
- If you did, then how did this judging make your body feel?
- Did you feel empathy at any point of the exercise?
- If you did – how did it make your body feel?
- How did your body feel right before it was time for you to speak?
- How did your body feel right after you were done speaking?
- What are your current feelings?
- What would happen if you practiced mindful listening with every person you spoke with during the discussion?
- Do you think that mindful listening would change the way you communicate and relate to others?
- How would you feel if you set a goal to pay attention with curiosity, acceptance, and kindness to everything you said as well as to everything you listened to?
Some other useful mindfulness techniques, interventions, and worksheets you can try for anxiety and stress
You can download, follow the guidelines, and fill out this free self-compassion pause worksheet in order to practice self-compassion and mindfulness.
This is an excellent exercise for people who have problems showing themselves self-compassion. Such people may easily offer compassion to others, but self-compassion is essential especially when dealing with problems associated with stress and anxiety.
Used for the Mindful Self-Compassion training program by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, this Self-Compassion Pause method will teach you:
- The importance of showing self-compassion in order to maintain a high quality of life
- The method of teaching yourself self-compassion, which is especially useful when you are in a difficult situation or stressed
- The exercise includes learning how to pause, and to take a moment to touch your heart or yo hug yourself. Then take several deep breaths and acknowledge that you are in pain or are suffering and that you need to treat yourself with the same kindness you would treat a close friend or person who is in a similar position
- The next step is acknowledging that you are suffering and allowing yourself to feel it
- The final step includes actually vocalizing this acknowledgment and accepting it with phrases like “this is suffering,” “suffering is part of being human,” and “I will love myself and will accept myself just as I am.”
Observer mindfulness meditation
Observer meditation is a practice used for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and for people who want to master mindfulness to deal with anxiety and with the stress we are all surrounded with.
Learning how to be an observer is essential if you want to make personal changes. It is an art of observing and acknowledging all the subtle emotions, sensations, and behaviors of your own body which you probably don’t even notice otherwise.
This exercise includes the following main steps:
- Assume a comfortable position on a chair, or anywhere you want to sit, and start listening to the guidance. You can listen to the instructions and follow along here.
- Allow yourself to settle comfortably into your mind and body
- Do your best to divert any distracting thoughts and considerations, and clear your mind from them.
- Focus on the room you are in, and try to observe yourself sitting down, just like somebody else in the room would do.
- Shift your focus on your skin, and try to sense how it feels across the texture and material of the chair you are sitting in.
- Try to visualize the shape and form that your skin is taking as you are sitting, and it is making contact with your chair and pay special attention to any sensations which you are feeling. Acknowledge each of these sensations one by one, and then allow your mind to move on naturally to the next one.
During the meditation, you should also acknowledge any emotions which arise and then return your focus to your own thoughts and feelings. The trick is to try to observe them without relating to them. This is what is known as “observer you.”
The observer meditation is not as easy as some of the other exercises for mindfulness for anxiety. It may take some time and practice until you are able to observe yourself without over-identifying with your thoughts and feelings.
If you have trouble with learning how to observe yourself, you may try practicing the self-compassion pause, until you are comfortable to take the next step into mastering mindfulness.
The idea of this exercise is to teach you how to enter a distanced and separate mode, and to learn how to step back from your experiences and yourself.
At the same time, it will allow you to connect to your deeper self, which is your core that is not affected by the temporary and passing emotions.
The five senses mindfulness exercise
This is an excellent mindfulness exercise to practice, especially if you are prone to panic attacks and severe bouts of anxiety.
It can help you pass through such episodes much easier and without the fear and panic associated with them.
Here are the steps to take:
- Look around you and notice five things that you can see. If possible, look for something that you wouldn’t usually pay attention to without focusing really hard.
- Look around you and notice four things which you can feel. You can choose the texture of your clothing, a surface near you, the wind blowing, or anything else which you can feel at this given moment.
- Try to find three things which you can hear. Listen carefully, and not three distinct sounds that you can hear.
- Use your awareness to find two things that you can smell. It may be something which you usually don’t pay attention to but try hard to distinguish between two different scents.
- Try to find one thing which you can taste at this given moment. It can be a sip of soda, a piece of candy, or anything which you can taste in your mouth at the moment.
This is an easy and quick mindfulness exercise that will quickly switch your mind into a mindful state, and keep it distanced from any anxiety or other negative emotions and symptoms which you are feeling. Plus, it will help bring you back to reality.
The 3-step mindfulness exercise
As its name suggests, this mindfulness exercise has only 3 steps, including:
- Pause, assume a comfortable position, and try to bring awareness to the thoughts, senses and feelings you are experiencing at the moment, but just observe them and allow them to pass.
- Focus your attention on your breathing. Observe how your body moves as you breathe. Follow the pattern of your breathing for a minute or for six breaths without trying to change the pattern and pace of your breathing.
- Expand your awareness outside of your body. Observe and acknowledge any sensations which your body is experiencing. When you are done, you can move on to focusing on your surroundings. Try to notice all the colors, patterns, shapes which you are seeing, without labeling the objects themselves.
This exercise is a great way to start your day off and, hopefully, to be more mindful during the rest of the day.
The mindful street walking exercise
This is a popular exercise which your guide or therapist will ask you to do during one of your sessions. It can help you learn how to better observe and acknowledge your emotions, sensations and your thoughts but without trying to hide, fix, or otherwise react to them.
By learning how to choose between your impulses and your actions, you can develop much better coping skills, as well as affirmative behavioral changes.
Here is what your instructor will ask you to do:
- You will be asked to visualize a scene in which you are walking down a street, which you know well, and then see somebody you know on the other sidewalk. You will need to imagine yourself waving to the person, but he or she doesn’t respond, and simply keeps on walking.
- After this, you will be prompted to answer several questions, including:
- Did you notice any specific thoughts while you were visualizing the scenario?
- Did you notice any specific emotions while you were imagining the situation?
- You will be asked to respond to these questions and to talk about all of the emotions and the thoughts which came into mind as you were imagining walking down the street and being ignored by somebody you know. You will also be encouraged to talk about whether this exercise has helped you.
The 3-minute breathing space meditation
This is a quick and very useful mindfulness meditation exercise that can help people suffering from anxiety, stress, and those who want to live their lives with a more mindful approach.
There are three steps of this exercises – one for each of the three minutes, as follows:
- Minute 1 – spend this first minute focusing on your current thoughts, feelings, and sensations, describing them with specific words or phrases, and answering the question – “how am I doing right now?”
- Minute 2 – spend the second minute observing your breathing and working on your awareness of your breath at this given moment
- Minute 3 – move outward from your breathing, and turn your attention to how your body is reacting to your breathing
This may sound like a quick and simple exercise, but when you try it out first, you may find it quite challenging to stay focused on these points without your mind being filled with distracting thoughts. This is perfectly normal, and instead of trying to block them, you should allow them to enter and then pass by while you observe them.
In order to practice this type of meditation for alleviating anxiety, you should focus on the following:
- Attending to your experience as is – just as an observer
- Focusing on your breathing as a single focal point
- Attending to your body by including your entire body and all sensations you are feeling at the moment in the practice
Here is a useful video which will guide you through the three-minute breathing space mindfulness meditation.
As with all other mindfulness exercises, you will need to be consistent and to practice it as often as possible, in order to be able to master it, and actually benefit from it.
Make sure that you set an intention
If you go to Yoga classes, you may have noticed how your teacher asks you to set a specific intention for each class. You can set your intention by writing it down in a journal in the morning, or set a mental intention for the day or for a specific event.
Having a concrete intention will help you focus on an event, and remind you why you are doing it. If you suffer from anxiety related to public speaking, you can set a clear and positive intention to stay focused on deep breathing and show care for your body, or on how well your speech has been written, or anything else which will help you overcome the anxiety when it is time for the speech.
Practice guided meditation via free apps and online guides
You don’t necessarily need to spend tons of money or go to special classes in order to learn mindful meditation.
There are various mobile apps, websites, and free online courses and resources which you can use to practice how to meditate mindfully.
You can also listen to mindfulness meditation guidance for free, provided by Dr. Ronal Siegel, a psychology professor from the Harvard Medical School at www.mindfulness-solution.com.
There are hundreds of mindful meditation guides available for free on YouTube as well, including Mindfulness Meditation – Guided 10 Minutes, Mindfulness Meditation to help Relieve Anxiety and Stress, and many more.
Set up some doodling or coloring time
Buy a box of color pencils, a coloring book, and make time for coloring at least one drawing or coloring for several minutes every day.
If you prefer to doodle, then get a notebook out and set some doodling time to take your mind off the stress and the worries which keep overtaking your thoughts.
Coloring or doodling has an excellent effect on relieving stress and anxiety.
In fact, there are many coloring books especially designed and made for treating anxiety and stress, including, The Calm Coloring Book by Patience Coster, Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring, The Sweary Coloring Book for Adults from CreateSpace Publishing, and many more options to choose from.
Practice mindfulness while walking
Taking walks in the park, or anywhere where you can be closer to nature will do wonders for your anxiety. Combining your daily walk with mindfulness will further increase the benefits of being active and being in touch with nature.
Make sure you turn your phone, music player or any other distracting device off and try focusing on the things you see, hear, or can feel and smell while spending time outdoors.
Pay attention to how the wind touches your hair or skin, how the green leaves feel smooth or textured, how the blossoms on the trees smell, the sound that the river is making, and any other sense which you can feel while walking.
Here is a walking meditation practice, which you can try out today:
- Start your walk at a natural pace with your arms placed comfortably wherever you prefer
- Begin counting your steps from 1 to 10 and then backward from 10 to 1
- As you pace, pay attention to the movement of your feet, the lifting, stepping down, as well as the other shifts in your body as you walk
- If you get distracting thoughts, guide your mind back to your walking and your body movement
- After some time, try to expand your senses, and pay attention to the surrounding sounds, but without judging them
- Then you can move on to smell. Try to notice if you can smell something, and if you can, pay attention to that smell without judging thoughts
- The next step is to pay attention to visual things like objects, colors, movements and others. Try to sustain your awareness
- Hold on to the awareness, and keep it open for everything you see, smell, hear around you, but without questioning or judging or trying to fix anything
- At the end of the mindfulness meditation walk, return your attention to the physical process of walking, and how your feet are stepping on the ground and leaving it.
- After you are done, stand still for a moment and think about how you can use this type of awareness and mindfulness during the rest of your day
Wish people happiness
This is one of the quickest mindfulness practices, developed by author Chade-Meng Tan. Try to randomly wish for someone you know or someone you don’t know to be happy. Wish it in your head, but wish it with your whole heart. This will send out positive energy without the need of saying anything.
This exercise is especially useful when you are annoyed or angry with someone.
Practice mindful eating
Just like with the abovementioned raisin eating exercise, you can try practicing mindful eating whenever you get a chance.
The exercise requires that you pay close attention to the color, the shape, the texture of what you are holding in your hand. Then turn your focus on the food’s smell.
After that, start eating it slowly and attentively. Notice the texture and taste in your mouth, as well as how it feels when you swallow a bite of it.
You will be surprised by how this exercise may change your perception of foods which you commonly eat.
Mindful observing of a leaf
All you need for this exercise is a single leaf, as well as your full attention.
Hold the leaf in your hand, and give it 100% of your attention for about 5 minutes.
Pay attention to its shape, color, patterns, and how it feels when you hold in in your hand.
This simple exercise will help you bring your mind back into the present instead of dwelling on past worries and anxieties.
Look at the sky and the stars
By pausing from your everyday life and errands, take the time to stop and look up at the stars and the endless sky. Take a few breaths and get a helpful reminder by space that your life is bigger than your anxiety and your problems.
Enjoy a cup of tea and concentrate on it completely
Even if you drink tea all day long, try focusing on the practice of making tea and enjoying a cup. Concentrate on the boiling process, the texture of the tea leaves, the aroma of the tea, watch the steam as it rises, then take small sips and enjoy the taste and the warm feeling. This is a truly relaxing experience which you can practice when drinking any kind of tea, and even French pressed coffee.
The objective of this exercise is probably the same one behind traditions like the Japanese tea ceremony, which has been strictly followed for centuries by the Japanese.
Take 15 minutes of your time to observe your thoughts
This mindfulness exercise will teach you how to be more aware of your own thoughts.
To perform it, assume a comfortable position lying down or sitting. Relax your body completely by releasing any tension you are feeling.
Start the exercise by focusing on your breathing. After that, move on to acknowledging what your body is sensing and feeling. After you are done, you can move on to observe your thoughts.
Lay or sit still and simply observe any thought that is entering your mind at the moment. The key is to only observe the thoughts without trying to dismiss, judge or label them.
Just “watch” them as they pass through your mind like clouds pass through the sky.
If you feel like your mind is wandering off after a particular thought, make you acknowledge the thought and gently guide your full attention back to the other incoming thoughts.
Try focusing on one task at a time
Even if you have an endless to-do list, avoid multitasking and focus on one task at a time. Being able to set up a schedule for your to-do-list of tasks is an excellent stress management organizational skill.
Once you complete the task, you can move on to the next one.
Try not to check your phone, e-mail, or otherwise procrastinate while completing your tasks one by one.
Try out these two mindfulness visual and sound exercises
Click on this link, and try out this mindfulness bell exercise. It takes only 5 minutes to complete. You will need to sit or lie comfortably and wait for the sound of the bell. This is the cue that is a reminder to aim your attention on the sound, and remain focused on it entirely until the sound is gone.
This is a simple mindfulness exercise that can help you become better grounded in the present.
The next mindfulness exercise is a visual one. Sit down and relax, and play this video. The goal is to try to focus your entire attention on the center of the pattern. Let your mind wander off as you do it, but try to remain in the present.
This exercise is very much like the magical experience of staring at a campfire or a candle flame and the quiet fixation associated with it.
It will help you stay present in the given moment, and teach you how to acknowledge but not judge or label your thoughts as they pass through your mind, and leave.
Leave your phone
Try not to take your phone with you wherever you go around the house or in the backyard. You don’t need to have your phone when you are eating, or when you need to run certain errands.
Stop worrying about missing an important notification, and enjoy your meal or anything else you are doing instead.
Try to turn your household errands into a relaxing experience
Instead of freaking out about all the cleaning you have to do, and the clutter you need to clear out, try to relax and perform one task at a time. Breathe, think happy thoughts and daydream while cleaning, ironing, or doing the dishes.
Start a journal
If you haven’t done so already, then you may want to consider starting a journal.
Take the time at the end of the day, or whenever you feel like it to jot down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook or a piece of paper. This can help you relax and get peace of mind.
You can also try to write down one or more things which you are grateful for, or the three things which made you happy during the day. This will definitely make you feel better at the end of the day.
Try not to stress out when driving
If you commute or drive through heavy traffic often, you know the feeling of anxiety and fear that you are going to be late. Instead of worrying, try to relax, sit with your back straight, and take deep breaths every time you need to stop at a red light or in a traffic jam.
Log out of or delete your social media accounts
You may not have noticed just how many times you check your phone and your social media accounts for notifications, news, and posts by friends.
This incessant checking will not only waste your time but also can increase your anxiety or depression, as some studies have found.
So, consider deleting a few of your social media profiles, or at least logout, so that you will need to enter your password the next time you want to check out your profile.
Set a time for social media and during the rest of the time, try focusing on your work, or on something else you need to be doing instead.
Allow yourself some relaxation time
You may have tons of work to do and errands to run, but you do need to take the time to simply relax and let the steam off.
This is essential if you are prone to anxiety or under stress.
Mindfulness may seem like an abstract and even idealistic practice or idea, but learning and practicing mindfulness can have a huge benefit for future positive behavioral changes, for stress reduction and for dealing with problems – big and small.
Mindfulness is especially useful for relieving and controlling anxiety, and many of the types of anxiety disorders.
Mindfulness exercises can also help get better sleep, lower the stress, decrease loneliness, fight off negative feelings, help you lose weight, manage chronic pain, improve the attention, improve your cognitive function, help prevent depression, and bring upon various other benefits for the mind and the body.