You’ve probably heard about mindfulness before. Everyone and their dog is practising it, but there’s a good reason for that. Mindfulness techniques for anxiety can have a profound effect on the way you think and feel. Although not a new concept, mindfulness has been gaining traction in the west for its healing effects on mental health disorders.
Although it may not be a cure for anxiety disorders (although some feel it is) it is a fantastic way to get your head into a fit state of total awareness. This state of clarity and awareness strips back the foggy mist of anxiety that covers many of our eyes when we’re going through it.
Mindfulness has been used for centuries. It’s a practice found in Zen Buddhism that even the ancient Samurai adopted to manage their emotions.
For me personally, mindfulness techniques have improved the way I think and feel, but also the way I digest the world around me. Many people still see mindfulness as just a ‘hippy meditation exercise’, but this really isn’t the case. I’m normally not the kinda guy to adopt things like mindfulness, but if it can benefit me, mindfulness techniques for anxiety can benefit you too.
Mindfulness is a way of taking your thought patterns off of ‘autopilot’ and gaining back some clarity in the present moment. It’s said that you only use 20% of your brain power in any given day, but I think with the use of mindfulness you can increase that percentage and wake up your senses to what is really happening around you. The reason mindfulness is so important for anxiety is because it is able to allow you to think clearly in the present moment, without thinking judgmentally.
So often we get wrapped up in thought about the future. Our emotions begin to run away with themselves. Mindfulness helps us to bring ourselves back to the present moment because that’s all we really have right now!
The bundles of thoughts and worries that come with anxiety cause our minds to become congested and busy. It’s so hard to clear that space when we need to see things for what they really are.
Having a mindfulness technique that I can use in daily life has become an important part of what I do to stay present. Mindfulness ‘primes’ my mind when I start to feel my thoughts wandering. Without it ‘priming’ my mind first, it would be easy for me to worry more than I should. I believe facing emotions like anxiety needs to be looked at from all angles.
There’s no right way to tackle anxiety, only what makes sense to each individual. However, I believe mindfulness techniques can have a positive impact on most people.
I look at mindfulness in two ways;
- Adopting it in my perspective towards life
- In the moments when I start to feel anxious
However here I want to talk about mindfulness techniques for anxiety. These are the things you can do right now to ground yourself back into the present moment. They’re simple but can be very effective.
Why Mindfulness Can Be Difficult
Mindfulness can be difficult to achieve because it’s not something that comes naturally to human beings. Sitting in silence and giving yourself a chance to clear your head is not something that most of us try and do very often. It can be uncomfortable and feel weird at first.
Some people get frustrated when they think that they can’t achieve and mindfulness state. The truth is, it’s perfectly normal to be questioning yourself when you try and clear your mind of clutter. It can take a long time to be able to master mindfulness. It can be very difficult at first, but with practice, it can be done.
However, mindfulness techniques for anxiety aren’t always about sitting in silence like mot meditations. Some can be active like purposefully noticing sensations in the body.
So, let’s dive into some super simple but effective mindfulness techniques for anxiety;
Mindfulness Techniques For Anxiety
1. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is a standard mindfulness exercise for anxiety and relaxation. Breathing techniques are adopted in many meditations practises for their ability to put us into a calm state of mind.
Start by sitting comfortably where you will not be distracted for a few minutes. You can close your eyes if it helps you to calm down.
- Start by putting your focus on your breathing
- Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth
- Slow down your breathing
- Clear your mind and give total focus to your breathing
- If your thoughts wander, don’t worry. Slowly bring them back to focusing on your breathing
- Continue for 3-5 minutes
- Notice how your lips feel with each breath
- Notice how the rest of your whole body feel the calmer you get
- With your mind clear, you can now bring your heart rate down and feel a sense of clarity
Focusing on breathing has powerful grounding effects. Being the source of life, focusing on breathing can bring a natural focus on the thing we do the most that we never pay any attention to. Our mindfulness breathing technique helps us to feel alive and present as we feel the oxygen fill our lungs.
2. Letting It Go
One of the biggest benefits of mindfulness is the way we can use it to let things go. More specifically, our anxious thoughts. Mindfulness effectively puts us into a state where we can see our thoughts, good or bad, coming and going freely. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ thoughts can come or go at any time but they never stick around forever, even if we keep worrying, it’s usually about something else or something new.
We can practise our free-flowing thoughts by imagining they are balloons. We don’t place judgment like ‘good’ or ‘bad thoughts on them however, we simply acknowledge that they are so. When we’re mindful, we understand that we don’t need to label things and we know that we will have different thoughts and they can come and go as they please.
- Start by totally relaxing. You can do this using mindful breathing.
- Close your eyes and take a look at your thoughts
- Put them into different coloured balloons and watch them leave and enter your head
- No not put judgment on your thoughts or label them
- Notice how your thoughts float around and never really stay in the same place for too long.
- Let them come and go as they please
It’s easy to let your mind wander when you practise this mindfulness technique for anxiety and that’s fine. We’re mindful of the fact this will happen so we don’t need to be frustrated when it happens. All we need to do is gently bring the focus back to our thoughts floating in and out of our mind.
3. Mindfulness Sensations
Bringing ourselves back down to earth is essential when we’re wrapped up in anxious thoughts and worry. Bringing focus to our physical sensations is a great way to ground ourselves and retain focus in the present moment. We can do this simply by focusing on one different body part at a time.
- Start by relaxing using mindful breathing
- No place your hand over your chest so you can feel your heartbeat
- Notice how it feels and feels the rhythm of its beat
- Remind yourself of its purpose
- Feel the sensation of the blood rushing from your heart around your entire body
- Become aware of your chest moving up and down slowly with ease
Being in sync with our body links our thoughts back up to our mind. So often we go out of sync with our bodies when we’re feeling intense anxiety. When we focus on our body and mind as a whole we can feel truly grounded and linked up to one another.
This kind of ‘anchoring’ brings us back down from fretting.
4. Mindful Coloring
Mindfulness colouring is basically what it sounds like. A mindful approach to colouring involves you picking up your colouring pencil and going with how you feel in the present moment. Using a creative process flexes our brain muscle to come up with ideas. These pre-thought ideas often dictate how we approach projects based on previous experiences or personal experiences.
A mindful approach to colouring is a freer and more ‘spare of the moment’.
- Pick a bunch of random colours to use
- Without judgement or thought, colour your drawing how you see fit in the moment
- You don’t need to make it perfect or symmetrical
- Allow your hand to move freely and fluidly
Having a creative outlet like colouring and drawing has been a huge help with my own anxiety over the years. Colouring has been huge in recent years for adults especially. Many colouring books have been adopted by adults for use in easing stress and anxiety. The reason – because creative processes really help.
5. Mindfully Watching Nature
Mindfully watching nature is great. How often do you go to the park and just watch the birds, or listen to the breeze? When you sink into your surroundings, you can get sucked into the present moment and your current environment. There’s a park near where I live which I like to go and feed the birds. There is a big lake there, and the birds all flock to the benches when they see people with foods or drinks. There’s something truly calming about this experience for me.
Being amongst the animals gets me thinking about what they might be saying to each other, and why they behave the way they do. Here’s how to perform this active mindfulness exercise;
- Find a quiet spot in your local park or woods
- Let yourself embrace the sounds of the wind in the trees
- Notice the birds and the sounds they make
- Watch the leaves fall from the trees
- Bring your awareness to the natural smells around you
Mindfulness Techniques That Help Anxiety
Mindfulness techniques can have a huge effect on lowering your anxiety. As I always say, practising mindfulness is meant to be a regular thing. Just like you’d exercise your body to lose weight on a consistent basis, practising mindfulness needs to also be done regularly. Getting into a mindful way of thinking doesn’t need to be hard. At its heart, mindfulness is a very simple technique that can be done almost anywhere at any time.
Give some time for yourself to get used to it and you’ll start feeling the benefits.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness techniques for anxiety, be sure to check out my printable mindfulness worksheets. I designed and illustrated the 23 printable mindfulness worksheets to give you a fun beginner way into mindfulness.
Previously published on projectenergise
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