Mindfulness Techniques For Anxiety That Actually Work
You’ve probably heard about mindfulness before. Everyone and their dog is practising it, but there’s 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 it’s 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.
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 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 ‘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.
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.
I managed to overcome my anxiety disorder of nearly 20 years by adopting a mindful approach in my daily life. Mindfulness ‘primed’ my mind for deep recovery. Without it ‘priming’ my mind first, I don’t think I would of been in the right mental state to get better. For me, there are stages we must go through to overcome anxiety, and the first one is to open up our minds to new ways thinking.
When we can first clear our heads, we can then start to adopt new ways of thinking and feeling. Mindfulness isn’t just a ‘one-time’ thing you can do like a fad diet. Just like a proper ‘diet’ it’s a log term way of life/thinking that needs to be adopted to be fully benefited from.
So, let’s dive into some super simple but effective mindfulness techniques for anxiety;
Mindfulness Techniques For Anxiety
1. Mindful Breathing
The above is a worksheet from my 23 printable mindfulness worksheets.
Mindful breathing is a standard mindfulness exercise for anxiety and relaxation. Breathing techniques are adopted in many meditation 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 breathe
- 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 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 heart beat
Notice how it feels and feel the rhythm of it’s 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 coloring is basically what it sounds like. A mindful approach to coloring involves you picking up your coloring 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 coloring is a freer and more ‘spare of the moment’
Pick a bunch of random colors to use
Without judgement or thought, color 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 coloring and drawing has been a huge help with my own anxiety over the years. Coloring has been huge in recent years for adults especially. Many coloring books have been adopted by adults for the use in easing stress and anxiety. The reason – because creative processes really help.
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 you 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 anytime.
Give it some time for yourself to get used to 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 beginners way into mindfulness that you can visualise.
Join lots of others who are already benefiting from them here.