In a world of never-ending to-do lists and rushing from here to there, it’s hard to give your full attention to anything. To learn how to pay attention to every moment, there’s mindfulness. This discipline, or philosophy of life, uses meditation and relaxation as paths to achieving greater awareness and fuller attention. We’ll show you a few mindfulness exercises to cope with anxiety. Ready to get started?

 

Mindfulness basics

The practice of mindfulness has nothing to do with religion. In Western cultures, mindfulness is aimed at improving quality of life and learning to manage stress. Stop living on automatic pilot and learn that nothing – good or bad – lasts forever. If we live in the present, we’ll be more aware and make better decisions.

 

Mindfulness exercises to reduce stress

Exercise 1: Take a moment to be thankful.

Set your cell phone alarm for a time of day when you’re not overwhelmed, such as before going to bed. Stop and think of something to be thankful for. This gratitude will immediately send good vibes to your brain.

Exercise 2: Stop for a minute.

Put a sticker with a red dot around your workplace, your home or on everyday objects. When you see the dot, stop, breathe and pay attention to what you’re feeling at that moment (are you nervous, calm, annoyed…?) and why you feel that way.

Exercise 3: Give a candle your full attention.

This exercise challenges you to focus your attention for at least a minute. Sound easy? Well, you’ll soon see it’s not. Light a candle and spend a minute looking at it. Without thinking of anything except it. If you want, you can set an alarm so you don’t watch the clock. If your thoughts drift, bring them back to the candle. At first, you’ll constantly lose focus, but as you keep training, you’ll get better.

Exercise 4: Leave behind your cell phone.

Disconnect from your cell phone for an entire day. Notice when you get the urge to look at your phone and how you feel about not having it (uncomfortable, insecure…?). On the flip side, try to pay attention to things you missed out before because you were staring at your phone.

Exercise 5: Count backwards.

Count backwards, only paying attention to the numbers. If you get lost in thought, you can start over from the top.

Exercise 6: Clean up.

This exercise should be completed using your full attention. You can choose a closet, drawer or room. Cleaning has a hidden benefit of getting rid of emotional strain, thus reducing stress and anxiety. Throw away anything you don’t need anymore. Seeing that clean drawer or closet afterwards will give you a sense of relief.

Exercise 7: Breathe.

Whenever we talk about yoga or meditation, we emphasize the importance of breathing. It’s also key for mindfulness. This exercise consists of paying attention to how you breathe. First, identify where you feel your breathing: in your chest, nose or throat? Set a timer or stopwatch on your cell phone and spend a minute focused on your breathing. Concentrate. If you change positions or start thinking about something else, stop and start over, giving your full attention.

You can do one of these exercises every day of the week. In no time, they’ll become easier and you can try more advanced exercises.

 

References:

  • Wellness goals. Prisma Publicaciones 2002 S.L. 20 mindfulness exercises to achieve inner peace.
  • Psychology and Mind. Jonathan García-Allen. Psychologist and personal trainer. 5 mindfulness exercises to improve your emotional wellbeing.