An anxiety attack happens when you’re anxious or deeply worried about what might happen in the future. These vivid worries can make you feel as if those awful things are actually happening right now. A great way to find relief from anxiety attacks is to learn and practice mindfulness.
To be mindful means to simply pay attention to what’s actually happening in the ‘here and now’. This gives your mind a ‘break’ from it’s anxiety-producing loops. In this article, you’ll find 5 easy mindfulness exercises to help bring you back to the present moment and help decrease the likelihood of a full blown anxiety attack.
Practicing mindfulness regularly is a great way to increase your overall sense of calm. This also helps decrease your risk of suffering from future anxiety attacks as well.
Mindfulness practices can be short and simple. Their purpose is to shift your attention from your anxiety producing thoughts onto the actual experience of what’s happening now.
These exercises are intended to be learned and practised when you’re not experiencing anxiety, so they are ready to be used when you are.
Easy Mindfulness Exercises
- Take a short pause and ask yourself – ‘how do I feel?’ Observe how you’re truly feeling, and identify what your emotions are. Once you’ve identified and labelled them, say out loud (if that’s appropriate) how you’re feeling. Then acknowledge that fact with a friendly kindness towards yourself.
- Identify the noise level of where you are right now. What can you hear? Are you in a quiet or loud environment? What are the reasons behind the noise level of your surroundings? Listen to the soundscape with curiosity and appreciation. These are the sounds of life that surround us.
- Take a look at what’s in front of you and say out loud (again, if appropriate) what it is and what it looks like. Take notice of the details, shapes, textures and colours.
- Notice how you are breathing. Just observe – is it fast, slow, deep, shallow, smooth, jerky, or are you holding your breath? Just notice without judgement or needing to change anything.
- Trick your brain into releasing ‘happy chemicals’ by placing a kind smile on your face. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, do it anyway and notice any sensations that happen. After 30 seconds notice any subtle changes in your state.
Mindfulness Practice: How Long Does It Take?
Formal mindfulness practices can take seconds, minutes or hours. All the above can be done in less than a minute to interrupt unhelpful thought habits. This means you can never be too busy or stressed to practice. It’s a good idea to practice some of these mindfulness exercises at least two times each day or whenever you remember. You can start by setting aside 30 seconds in the morning and another 30 seconds in the afternoon or in the evening. As your endurance towards practicing mindfulness increases, you can slowly increase the frequency or the length of your exercise.
Keep in mind that it’s important for you to be consistent. Practicing daily mindfulness exercises for even as short as 30 seconds each time is better than doing it 30 minutes once a week. Practising mindfulness doesn’t have to take away your precious time. What matters is that you’re regularly checking in with yourself and bringing yourself to focus on the ‘here and now’. Soon you’ll notice how the quality of your life is improving.
How to learn mindfulness
The best way to learn mindfulness is through classes or personal coaching where you can be guided by an experienced teacher. Training your own mind to work more usefully for you can be a tricky business, it’s far easier with some experienced external help. If you’re suffering from high levels of anxiety we would recommend talking with us about out therapeutic coaching using mindfulness practice. We have the expertise and experience to work with you at your own pace to get you comfortably get past anxiety.