Five Mindfulness Exercises for Anxiety

December 31, 2019
Although there are many mindfulness exercises, in this article, we've decided to share five that may help you manage your anxiety. Try them out today!

Mindfulness is our ability to stay in the present moment. Thus, it’s the ability to return to the “here and now” when our minds have traveled to the past or the future. Mindfulness exercises can help us practice this ability.

Thanks to mindfulness exercises, you can become truly aware of where you want to go and what your goals are. If something that you don’t like is happening to you right now, you can decide not to think about it. The problem is that a lot of the time, you may get lost in a flow of thoughts that correspond to a past that no longer exists. Also, you may freak yourself out with future thoughts that seek to control what hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, it becomes even harder to make decisions about your life goals or values.

In this regard, mindfulness helps people realize that the only reality is now. Other moments only exist in our imagination. They aren’t real. Experiencing every situation without judgments, simply accepting them with your five senses, is wise. This is because it frees you from unnecessary emotions such as guilt or future concern.

Mindfulness helps you focus on the only thing that’s real: the present moment. You only have the opportunity to act now. The rest is beyond your control, as it either hasn’t happened yet (the future) or no longer exists (the past).

Some mindfulness exercises for anxiety

To practice mindfulness, it’s necessary to select specific exercises that you must do every day. This will help you make them habits. Although there are many mindfulness exercises, in this article, we decided to share five that may help you manage your anxiety.

As you may already know, anxiety is an emotion that prepares humans for a threat. It’s a defense mechanism that helps us survive and make decisions quickly and effectively when facing potentially dangerous situations. Therefore, you need to realize that anxiety, in itself, isn’t bad. You mustn’t judge it. Instead, know its function and try to use it to your advantage.

These five mindfulness exercises for anxiety can help.

This article may interest you: 5 Mindfulness Exercises for Better Sleep

1. Take a shower

A woman taking a shower.

You can take advantage of this intimate moment to reach mindfulness. Simply concentrate and enjoy the sensations of the water, soap, and other elements.

First, a good exercise to start practicing mindfulness is taking a shower while paying attention to what you’re doing. Your thoughts should be solely focused on the act of showering.

In this sense, just concentrate on everything that involves taking a shower. Taking the soap, washing your body, feeling your skin, smelling the soap, feeling the water, seeing how the water makes the soap slip and watching the bubbles and water go down the drain…

This involves going back to a “beginner’s mentality,” as if you’ve never taken a shower before. Let yourself be seduced by all the elements of your shower. Thus, don’t do it quickly just to get it over with. Also, don’t think about what you have to do next. Just really enjoy the shower you’re taking.

2. Mindfulness exercises for anxiety: Modeling clay figures

This exercise takes us back to childhood. Children are the best mindfulness teachers. They continually live in the present, everything surprises them, and they believe everything is wonderful.

Try being a child. Take some color modeling clay and get ready to make nice figures. Think about what you want to create and do it with dedication and patience, putting all your effort and attention into it. Don’t get up to do anything else until you’re done. Completely dedicate yourself to your modeling clay figures, letting your thoughts focus just on them.

3. Soap bubbles

A woman blowing bubbles.

Besides being relaxing, making soap bubbles increases your ability to focus on a single activity.

This exercise allows you to practice alternative relaxation based on breathing. Also, it increases the ability to focus your attention on a single present activity.

Get a bubble wand and start blowing bubbles. Notice how some are smaller, while others are a lot bigger. See how the light is reflected in them and creates beautiful colors. Experience how they explode when they reach a certain height and how others keep going up. Savor this moment!

4. Empty your hard drive

When you feel anxious, you can take some paper and a pen to “empty your hard drive.” This involves capturing all your thoughts on paper.

Write them down as if they were telegrams. Don’t evaluate, reject, or judge them. They’re just thoughts!

You should also read: 7 Benefits of Meditating

5. Mindfulness exercises for anxiety: Wash the dishes

A person watching the dishes.

What if you take advantage of the time you spend washing your dishes to simply focus?

Washing dishes is a great mindfulness exercise. It’s similar to the shower exercise. Thus, it’s about connecting to all the sensations that the act of washing dishes entails. Notice the cold or hot water, the dishwashing liquid, and its texture, watching the dirt fall off and how the dish becomes cleaner, among other things.

The key is to focus your mind on the activity itself while considering other thoughts mere “noise”.

The benefits of mindfulness

Many studies support the benefits of practicing simple mindfulness exercises. They help you focus on the present and be more aware of everything around you in the here and now. Also, mindfulness gives you the advantage of distancing yourself from your ruminations and negative emotions. It helps you avoid internalizing them so you can continue doing the things that will help you reach your goals.

On the other hand, mindfulness distances you from the evaluations and judgments based on your deepest beliefs and gives you a lot of peace and serenity. Not judging yourself helps boost your well-being and social interactions. Therefore, it doesn’t only improve your self-esteem, but also your social relationships.

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  • Hoge EA, Bui E, Marques L, et al. Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013;74(8):786–792. doi:10.4088/JCP.12m08083
  • Parmentier FBR, García-Toro M, García-Campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P, Gili M. Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front Psychol. 2019;10:506. Published 2019 Mar 8. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506