If you suffer from anxiety, you have probably experienced moments of intense fear and worry. When these feelings hit, it can be hard to know what to do to make it go away. While unfortunately there is no ‘cure’ for anxiety, mindfulness and breathing techniques can help bring you calm during these difficult times.
If you have never tried any mindfulness exercises before – or if you don’t know what mindfulness is – we’ve got you covered. Take a look at the following techniques and give one a try the next time you’re feeling stressed, on edge or anxious…
For this exercise, the first thing you need to do is sit in a relaxed, upright position. Make sure that you are comfortable while still maintaining a good posture.
Next, close your eyes and begin breathing in and exhaling out through your nose. As you do this, you might notice a few things in your body; the air in your nostrils or your chest rising and falling, for example. For this exercise, however, we want to focus on the feeling of air entering and leaving your nose.
As you breathe in, you might notice that the air is cold and sharp. As you breathe out, you may feel it on your upper lip. Focus on these feelings, paying total attention to your breath as it comes and goes. Throughout this process, it’s normal for distracting thoughts to come creeping in. If this happens, it’s important not to get angry or frustrated. Let the thoughts drift across your mind, but bring your attention back to your breathing. They will eventually leave.
Try and keep your focus on your breath for 2 minutes to begin with. Although it may not seem very long, it is often enough to get your mind away from your anxious thoughts. After you’re finished, take a moment to acknowledge how you’re feeling. If you notice that you’re more relaxed and calm than you were previously, try and practice this exercise daily.
For this exercise, you’ll need to find a natural object – like a flower, leaf or even clouds in the sky – and watch it for 2 minutes. Sounds easy in theory, right? But similar to the last exercise, keeping your mind focused solely on what is in front of you can be difficult.
Try and take in every detail of the object. Notice its colours, the noises it might be making, whether it’s moving in the wind. Try and look at it as though you’re seeing it for the very first time. If intrusive or anxious thoughts creep in, let them pass and turn your attention back to what’s in front of you.
This exercise is almost opposite in its method to the previous ‘Calming Breath’ exercise, as it brings the attention outward rather than inward. However, both are terrific ways to shift your focus from your worries to what is happening in the moment.
Be patient with yourself
No matter which exercise you choose, you might find that it’s difficult to clear your head at first. This is completely normal. After all, we live in a world where we are constantly multi-tasking and worrying about one thing or another. With time and practice, however, you will feel your mind start to calm more easily. This can be achieved by setting aside just 5 minutes per day to practice your mindfulness technique.
These are just two of our favourite breathing exercises to do during anxious moments. You can find more examples online, allowing you to try a few different options until you find one that really works.
Of course, these exercises do not take the place of professional help for your mental health issues. If you feel as though your anxiety or low moods are impacting your life, seeing a psychologist is the best way to overcome this. Ok To Talk can match you with one that is perfect for your needs. Get the process started today by completing our quick and easy online form.