Anxiety can be exhausting and impacts on your emotional and physical well-being. Research has shown that mindfulness helps us reduce anxietyand depression. “Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we are doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. By focusing our attention on the present moment, mindfulness counteracts rumination and worrying. … In such cases, mindfulness can be an important tool for helping us to better focus on the present moment.”
Diana Winston and Greater Good Science Center developed a 5-Minute Breathing Meditation to help you cultivate mindfulness to help you deal with stress, anxiety and negative emotion. This also helps to cool you down when your temper flares and helps you concentrate. You only need to do this 15 -minutes daily for a least a week and evidence suggests that mindfulness increases as you practice it.
According to Diana Winston and Greater Good Science Center: The most basic way to do mindful breathing is simply to focus your attention on your breath, You want to the inhale and exhale. You can do this while standing, but ideally you’ll be sitting or even lying in a comfortable position. Your eyes may be open or closed, but you may find it easier to maintain your focus if you close your eyes. It can help to set aside a designated time for this exercise, but it can also help to practice it when you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious. Experts believe a regular practice of mindful breathing can make it easier to do it in difficult situations.
Sometimes, especially when trying to calm yourself in a stressful moment, it might help to start by taking an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through your nostrils (3 seconds), hold your breath (2 seconds), and a long exhale through your mouth (4 seconds). Otherwise, simply observe each breath without trying to adjust it; it may help to focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation through your nostrils. As you do so, you may find that your mind wanders, distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. That’s okay. Just notice that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Find a relaxed, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting wherever they’re comfortable. Tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it’s comfortable.
- Notice and relax your body. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax and become curious about your body seated here—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe.
- Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. When one breath ends, the next breath begins.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
- Stay here for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.
- Check in before you check out. After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.
You may find that your mind wanders, distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. That’s okay. Just notice that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Practicing mindfulness regularly can help you move past negative emotions and manage stress. I encourage you to use this simple mindful breath practice daily to ease your anxiety and calm your mind.
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