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12 Mindfulness Activities For Anxiety

Unchecked anxiety can take its toll and suck the joy out of your life.

But you have to realize that that anxiety is actually your mind anticipating the worst possible scenarios with any situation governed by a self-deprecating mindset along with a low self-esteem. 

So, what should you do to stop anxiety?

You simply need to bring your anxious self back to the present moment with mindfulness activities for anxiety.


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What is Mindfulness?

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

This is how Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness, who is a renowned psychologist and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts. 

Instead of being reactive and overwhelmed by the situation, we become aware of the situation and what we are doing each moment. 

This gives us immense clarity on how to take control of any situation and what we should do to help ourselves.

Objectives Of Any Mindfulness Activity

Before we get into the details of the mindfulness activities for anxiety, it’s very important to understand the objective of being mindful.

1. Your Intention should be to become aware of the present (and return to it again and again)

2. Your Attention should be on what is occurring in the present (on the thoughts, feelings, sensations as they arise)

3. Your Attitude must be compassionate, non-judgmental, and curious in the present

The essence of any mindfulness activity lies in its objectives.No matter what activity you engage in, don’t forget about these: Intention | Attention | Attitude

12 Mindfulness Activities For Anxiety

Here are 12 mindfulness activities that will help you manage your anxiety quickly and effectively.

1. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Use The 54321 Grounding Technique

A popular mindfulness technique is the 54321 grounding method which uses our five senses to ground our consciousness to the present moment. Becoming mindful of what you observe in your surroundings through your five senses can help you handle any anxious situation effectively.

To practice this grounding technique, you simply need anything in your surrounding that you can perceive through each of your senses. 

Ask yourself:

What are the FIVE things you can see?

What are the FOUR things you can touch?

What are the THREE things you can hear?

What are the TWO things you can smell?

What is the ONE thing you can taste?

Then with each sensation, affirm to yourself what you sense out loud (like I see a pen on the desk or I can feel the surface of the pillow cover or I can hear the honking of a car) and then pay attention to its features.

Learn more about the 54321 grounding technique here!

2. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Take A Short Walk

If the situation allows you, simply get out and start walking. 

Look around as you walk or maybe focus on your steps. You can even count them if it helps. This will bring your attention back to the present and reduce your anxiety. 

Moreover, numerous studies have suggested that physical activity like walking, positively reduces the psychological and physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety, by releasing anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), and endocannabinoids.

3. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Breathing Techniques

Our breath is immensely powerful and the simplest of breathing techniques you can practice is to lengthen your exhale and breathing through the abdomen or belly. 

Any deep breathing technique can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the chances of hyperventilation and feelings of stress and anxiety.

Next time you feel anxiety overcoming your senses, take back control over your body and mind by trying out deep breathing techniques.

Learn more on the seven breathing techniques to manage stress and anxiety

4. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Anchor Yourself With A Phrase

This is another effective technique to bring your attention to the present.

You can use something like, “My name is {Your Full Name}. I am {Your Age} years old. My birthday is on {Your Birthdate},” or “Today is {Date} and it’s {time now} and I’m sitting at {place}.”

You can also think about the weather and use the weather report as the anchor phrase.

5. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Move In Rhythm

Have you ever walked with one foot on every alternate floor tile?

Or, moved in rhythm to the beat of some music? It’s fun and playful, hence very relaxing. 

Try to move in rhythm to a beat inside your mind or simply put on music and move to the groove.

6. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Drink Water

Not drinking enough water can become a sneaky yet serious issue on a daily basis. 

With 60-70% of our body made up of water, it requires little evidence of why dehydration can become a problem. Hormones to nutrients, almost everything is transferred via fluids inside our body, so less fluid consumption leads to bodily dysfunctions.

Dehydration may not cause anxiety directly but it can intensify many different symptoms of anxiety like increased heart rate, dizziness, and muscle fatigue. Apart from these symptoms, dehydration can also lead to gas, loss of appetite, and nausea.

After a prolonged time, the brain may start malfunctioning and can bring on headaches as a symptom.

Water is life and it’s important that you provide your body with the right amount of fluid it needs. Moreover, staying properly hydrated will keep you calm, relaxed, and promote positive emotions.

7. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Practice Sensory Soothing

Our senses are tightly intertwined with our emotions and one of the quickest ways to eliminate stress is to engage one or more of your senses – Touch, Sight, Smell, Hearing, Taste.

When something feels or smells or tastes or sounds nice or looks good, we feel calm and happy towards that thing. Researchers define this connection as ‘conceptual association’ between a product and its perceived sensory effect.

Our distinct senses relate to our emotions, both psychologically and neurologically about anything and the practice of sensory soothing can be very effective in bringing feelings of relaxation and relieving stress and anxiety after a busy day.

Make a list of all the uni-sensory experiences that you like for each of your five senses, Touch, Sight, Smell, Hearing, Taste using this guide on sensory self-soothing for adults, and relax next time stress troubles you.

8. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Use Anti-Anxiety Affirmations

During anxiety, our thought process seems to spiral around the worst possible scenario with the given situation (cause) and we begin to react in response to those anxious thoughts (symptoms). 

Repeating positive affirmations (to ourselves or out loud) during these situations can help our conscious mind influence our subconscious anxious thoughts with positive awareness. 

This interference of anxious thought patterns can in-turn help to alleviate the anxiety symptoms and enable us to take back control over our thoughts and the situation.

Next time you are in an anxious situation, repeat your set of positive affirmations to break your anxious thought patterns mindfully and regain control.

Tips:

  • Create your own set of affirmations with personalized and realistic positive statements
  • Practice repeating your affirmations daily in normal situations to make it convenient for you to start using them during anxious situations.

Learn more on how to create your own set of affirmations for anxiety with 20 examples

9. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Drink A Relaxing Tea

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world after water and is a much healthier alternative to coffee when it comes to providing a kick of alertness. With no caffeine in them, teas don’t hamper with your sleep and put your body in hyperdrive.

Many different varieties of herbal teas like lavender, chamomile, peppermint, etc. pack in natural ingredients that have been found to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety and help you relax and even sleep better at night. These ingredients are so effective that many over-the-counter sleep supplements and relaxants also make use of these same ingredients found in these herbal teas.

Teas have been known for ages to induce feelings of calmness and relaxation. So, next time welcome anxiety with a mindful warm cup of relaxing tea.

Learn more about the Best Teas For Anxiety Relief!

10. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety: Count In Random Order

This is another slick way to trick the anxious mind.

Ever since we learned to count, we’ve been trained to do so in sequence, and because of this mental training, we can do that even without paying full attention to it.

Trick your mind and count in any random order.

Start off by not counting every alternate number like 75, 77, 79. The aim is to simply disrupt any sequence and force your anxious mind to pay attention to counting.

Once you’re done with counting, you’ll observe less anxiety.

11. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Count Your Heartbeat

When your heart starts pounding, take a moment to become aware of that. 

You should be able to feel it pumping rapidly. Simply start counting your heartbeat. 

You can either place your hand on your heart or measure it by pressing on a nerve. This is a great technique to trick the mind to calm down your breathing.

12. Mindfulness Activity For Anxiety : Make A Gratitude List

Whenever your mind has wandered off to cultivate anxiety, why not ask it to cultivate gratitude.

Start making a mental list of all the things you are deeply grateful for. 

Do not forget to include things we take for granted like the house, food that you ate, nice weather, etc.

Bottom Line

These 12 mindfulness activities for anxiety can significantly help you manage your anxiety at any moment in life.

Your mind will likely wander repeatedly from the experience when you are just beginning.

Just like with everything good in life, mindfulness takes practice and effort as well.

Have patience and don’t give up before experiencing true mindfulness.

Along with mindfulness, try to eat these 7 foods that can reduce anxiety and definitely look out for foods that can aggravate your anxiety

Make the necessary changes immediately because it’s your life that is at stake here. 

Lastly, never hesitate to reach out for support or consult a mental health professional to understand your anxiety better.

Online Therapy is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy and please exercise caution before investing in any online therapy platform.


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