Fort Wellness Counseling

Do Mindfulness Exercises for Anxiety Work?

mindfulness exercises for anxiety

Do mindfulness exercises for anxiety work? If you (or people in your life) are struggling with chronic stress or worry, then you’ve probably asked yourself that question. Anxious feelings significantly impact everyday life. However, mindfulness practices have calmed minds for thousands of years, and modern science agrees they’re helpful tools for managing anxiety.

What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness Definition

Mindfulness is a wellness practice that dates back thousands of years. Generally, it involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness (and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed). Mindful practices include:

  • Not allowing your thoughts to distract you.
  • Being kind and non-judgemental – to both yourself and others.
  • Taking in your surroundings and being aware of your presence within them.
  • Accepting how you feel in the present moment – both physically and emotionally.

Is Mindfulness Effective for Anxiety?

So, do mindfulness exercises for anxiety work? Well, a recent study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as sleep quality. Additionally, further research suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction improves:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Perceived stress
  • Satisfaction with life
  • Symptoms of emotional distress

When someone mindfully observes their thoughts, feelings, and environments, they begin to recognize how their body responds to stress. Over time, this helps them self-regulate and reduce anxious feelings. Additionally, mindfulness has many positive health effects that ease chronic pain and cancer-related anxiety.

6 Mindfulness Exercises for Anxiety

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Therefore, we recommend taking some time to find an approach that works for you. If you’re unsure where to start, here are six mindfulness exercises for anxiety:

1. Breathing Techniques

Research has shown how slowing down and activating your breath regulates the parasympathetic nervous system – which calms the body. And because there are a variety of breathing exercises to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that works for you.

2. Acknowledging Your Surroundings

An easy way to ground yourself in the present moment is to acknowledge your surroundings. Take a moment to truly notice what’s around you and label everything that you see. Try to focus on your 5 senses.  What do you see? Hear? Feel? Taste? Smell? The more vivid you can make it, the better. 

3. Body Scanning

If you aren’t already familiar, body scanning asks people to slowly work up (or down) their bodies and acknowledge various sensations. An animal study revealed that body scanning successfully reduced stress and anxiety after just one session.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This full-body exercise asks participants to gently engage (or squeeze) various muscles throughout their body. Afterward, they release said muscles and allow them to relax. Despite its simplistic nature, progressive muscle relaxation is incredibly effective. In fact, a study found that patients who practiced for 12 weeks experienced a significant reduction in anxiety.

5. Active Listening

Usually, we refer to active listening as a tool for effective communication. However, mindfully listening to music or nature is a fantastic way to reduce feelings of anxiety or stress.  Get outside and listen to the wind going through the trees. Or even better, sit outside on a patio or porch when it’s raining.  

6. Guided Meditation

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro – calming your buzzing mind can be challenging. However, listening to a guided meditation is one of the best mindfulness exercises for anxiety. If you’re unsure where to find one, there are plenty of apps that offer this type of practice. Or you could reach out to our team for some recommendations.

Anxiety Therapist Fort Worth

If you or a loved one is struggling with anxious feelings, we hope that these mindfulness exercises for anxiety offer some relief. But if they don’t, our Fort Wellness Counseling team is here to help. As anxiety therapists in Fort Worth, we provide patient-centered, individualized treatment to help our clients achieve a higher quality of life. Contact our team to get started.

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