15 Mindfulness Activities To Try When You Feel Anxious
Updated on June 5, 2022 by Summer K-Hadden
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What can you do to help yourself when your brain is going 100 miles a minute? When it’s hard to catch your breath? When every thought you have is filled with worry? The first thing is to take a nice slow breath. Anxiety can feel overwhelming but, here’s the good news:
1) You’re not alone and 2) There are several things you can do to relieve your anxiety starting right now!
Mindfulness is the act of being aware in the present moment. And it is an amazing tool everyone should try.
MINDFULNESS FOR ANXIETY? ABSOLUTELY, YES!
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has us face the here and now. It takes us away from all the “what ifs” that float around our anxious brains. It provides relief from worrisome thoughts, which makes it great for anxiety sufferers.
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years. However, it was first introduced as a technique for stress reduction in 1979 when it was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
His original approach used Mindfulness to treat chronically ill patients, who were not improving by traditional medical means.
His results showed that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was wildly effective for his patients.
Mindfulness activities can easily be added into your day, no matter what your current stress or activity level is.
It can be effortlessly be added to your daily routine, yoga, walking, getting ready or even doing chores.
It can help you improve your overall mental well being and make big strides in your anxiety.
P. S. Are you anxious RIGHT NOW and looking for a way to calm down? Try out ShineSheets tools for anxiety:
They’re designed with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy principles which help you gently challenge your anxious thoughts and simply make them less scary.
What Are Some Mindfulness Activities To Try When You Feel Anxious?
PART 1: Mindfulness Activities To Soothe Your Mind
1. Try Meditation
Meditation is an act of clearing your mind and returning your focus to your breath. It is best done in a comfortable seated position. Take a slow breath in and count to 5, then exhale slowly to a count of 5. Repeat this three times. Then switch back to your normal breathing pattern.
By focusing and recentering our breath it allows you to clear your mind and reduces stress and anxiety.
For a beginner meditator, just 3-5 minutes of meditation can provide relief. If thoughts of anxiety pop up during the meditation, acknowledge them and then refocus on your breath.
2. Read a Book
Reading instead of using your phone or tablet before bed is particularly good for reducing anxiety.
Blue light waves, like those emitted from phones, tablets, and laptops activate our brains and make it hard for us to relax. This is particularly bad when it gets close to bedtime.
Try switching to the traditional medium of a book instead to help your brain power down more efficiently.
Books help to relieve anxiety by taking us away from reality in small bite-size pieces.
Choose books that are easily digestible such as poetry, comedy, and short stories. Just 10 minutes of reading each day can not only expand our minds but also reduce our anxiety!
3. Get Creative: Doodle, Color or Paint
A lot of mindfulness activities involve being creative since it is a great way to leave some worry behind.
Creating improves positivity and problem-solving! By drawing, doodling, painting or coloring, we are able to handle tasks and think creatively. Also, the act of coloring allows you to focus on the present moment, which is the most important mindfulness goal.
If you are new to creating, that’s okay too! Utilizing a coloring book or paint by number is a great way to start as it gives you a template to follow.
PART 2: Mindfulness Activities To Calm Down Your Thoughts
4. Create an Anti-Anxiety Affirmation
Affirmations are one of the mindfulness activities that engage words.
So by saying to yourself “I am calm and free of worry.”, you are able to encourage your brain to follow this path of releasing negative energy and thoughts surrounding you at the moment.
Affirmations can be written in a journal daily, said out loud to yourself or scattered on post-it notes on your bathroom mirror. Whatever works for you!
Affirmations are just here to be your own personal cheerleaders.
Here are 5 great affirmations for anxiety sufferers:
- I’m a natural problem solver and I can handle anything life throws at me.
- I love myself as I am, unconditionally.
- My anxiety does not define me.
- I release anxiety and become more peaceful with each breath I take.
- I am cool, calm and collected.
5. Write In a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a nightly gratitude journal is a great way to appreciate the things around you.
A Gratitude journal will help you to focus on the good you’re receiving in the present moment, and be thankful for it.
Choose five things that you are grateful for today and write them down before bed.
PART 3: Mindfulness Activities To Engage Your Senses
6. Go for a Walk
Getting outside is one of the most effective mindfulness activities. Take a 20-minute walk and enjoy the splendor of the outdoors. Put your phone away.
Focus on the way your body feels along the way. Does anything hurt or feel stiff? Does movement feel good? What is the temperature like? Are there any sights or smells your particularly appreciate?
7. Drink Herbal Tea (And Skip Coffee!)
Hot beverages are great for reducing anxiety since they reduce stress and increase endorphins. They also relax our body and often – our minds.
However, reducing caffeine intake is important for reducing anxiety. Try switching 1-2 cups of coffee a day for herbal tea.
Peppermint, Ginger or Chai are all great options for beginner tea drinkers. When sipping your tea, try to notice all the smells, taste, warmth and even sounds in the moment.
8. Water Your Plants
Growing plants has several amazing effects on our mental health – it acts as a way to ground us.
Also, mindfulness activities that require you to nurture something other than yourself are fulfilling.
For beginner plant keepers, something small and hearty like a succulent is a great way to get started!
Research the type of plant you choose and work it into your routine to water is based on those needs.
Talk to your plant. Give it fertilizer. Re-pot it when it grows too big. Track your plant’s growth.
In addition to all the feel-good energy you will get for caring for your plant, you will also be adding a natural air filter to your home!
9. Eat Mindfully
The food we put into our body fuels us. An anxious mind can forget to eat. It can force us to have crazy cravings for comfort’s sake. And ir can distract us from enjoying our food.
Food-related mindfulness activities can put us back into a routine to enjoy our food in a healthy way to more properly nourish our bodies and souls.
Here are Three Ways to Eat Mindfully:
1. Relax and Enjoy your meal. Savor each bite. Chew your food fully. Enjoy a glass of wine as a pairing. Take the time to identify the textures and flavors you enjoy. How could you recreate this dish at home or in another way?
2. Enjoy a meal with a friend or loved one sans Cell Phones or TV. Shut off distractions and have a sit-down meal with a friend. Talk about your day. Compare stories. Enjoy each other’s company. Talk about your meal. Mindfulness here is about focusing on the interaction between yourself and your loved one while enjoying a meal.
3. Purposefully try a new healthy recipe. Dust off those recipe books and choose a whole and simple healthy meal to create at home. Use ingredients that are wholesome and natural. Identify how your body feels when it is eating for health!
Related: How to eat your way to better mood
PART 4: Mindfulness Activities To Lower Your Stress
10. Intentionally Put your Phone Away
“Huh, what did you say? Sorry, I was just checking my phone.”
How often do you find yourself looking at your phone? Often we do it more when our worry level is up or when we’re bored.
Try one of the simplest mindfulness activities there is – plugging your phone in and charging it in another room. Use this time to actually notice everything around you.
Getting your phone out of sight will also help prevent you from mindlessly checking it every few minutes. Limiting your phone use will help you to focus and reduces the stress of constant distraction.
11. Take a Social Media Break
Social Media can cause anxiety like no other.
Looking at everyone else’s highlight reel has a way of making us feel farther from our goals. This can definitely cause our heart rates to go up and our worry to rise. Take a Break!
Log out of every social media app for a day or better yet a whole week.
Hide the apps so they’re not easy to access.
Have a good friend change your passwords if you need to.
Taking a social media break will improve your mindfulness and anxiety levels. It may even help increase your productivity and increase your pleasure in the things around you.
12. Declutter One Area
Clutter and mess increase stress and prevent productivity.
One great way to reduce Anxiety is to declutter one small area.
You can start with a closet or even just a drawer. Take all items out of the drawer, wipe it down, add organizers/baskets for small or groups of items and reassemble. Throw away any rubbish.
Donate anything you don’t use or haven’t used in 6+ months.
By focusing on one small area we can decrease stress and improve slowly over time.
Set a goal for yourself to tackle one small area of your home each day.
The more organized you become the less stress and anxiety you will experience surrounding daily tasks.
PART 5: Other Mindfulness Activities
13. Keep a Mood Tracker
Are there certain days or activities that are triggering your anxiety?
Use a Mood Tracker to help you understand your emotional patterns and move past them.
Mindfully take a few minutes each day to fill in your mood tracker and look at how you felt throughout the day.
A mood tracker empowers us to get a better handle on how our moods affect us.
When we can identify our anxiety triggers it is easier for us to avoid and manage them.
14. Do a Task Batch
Eliminate the anxiety of having too much to do at home or at work by batching tasks.
Put tasks that occur in the same location together. If the post office, bank, and grocery store are close together, you can visit them all on the same trip to reduce stress and gas usage.
Do computer-related tasks all at the same time.
Also, you can put tasks that require similar efforts together.
Try scheduling all writing in one batch. Edit your writing in another. Batching these types of tasks allow us to focus on them with less effort.
Try blocking off time in your planner for your specific “task batches.”
Task batching makes us more mindful of how we’re spending our time and energy. This method also helps increase our productivity.
15. Make your bed
Making your bed each morning sends a signal to your brain that the day is ready to begin.
It can aid in releasing early morning anxiousness. It tricks our brains into tidying and getting organized earlier in the day.
This also creates a deep sense of well-being and helps us to feel safe and comfortable in our space.
Mindfulness Activities Can Make Your Anxiety Less Soul-Crushing.
There are many little things you can do to help reduce and control your anxiety… Mindfulness activities are great to add to your life for stress reduction and anxiety control.
You don’t even need any outside tools to begin your mindfulness practice. Many of mindfulness activities above can be completed with things you already have in your home.
So, you have all the tools you need to begin reducing your anxiety today.
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