A Mindfulness Exercise to Curb Anxiety
Do you find yourself hunched over a screen for the majority of your day? Does your back hurt and your neck ache at the end of a workday? Have the experiences and incidents over the last year increased your anxiety and stress?
If so, this article is for you.
We can thank technology for many advances, conveniences, and modern miracles these days, but it also contributes to the increase of technological or computer-based jobs. Many adults have jobs requiring nearly a full workday of sitting in the same spot, and we’re expected to somehow monitor our tasks, anxiety, and posture!
Did you know that one in four Americans sit for 8 or more hours a day? In Canada, that number can go up to 10 hours of sitting per day for many adults. And living in the midst of a global health pandemic has sent many jobs straight to the home, where it’s even easier to stay seated on the couch or even in bed all day.
And that lack of movement can often lead to anxiety and worry.
In fact, one study shows that “high sedentary behavior and low physical activity are associated with anxiety and depression…”
If you’re one of these individuals, you may want to consider this mindfulness exercise to combat body fatigue, stiff joints, anxiety, and tension accompanying a stationary or sedentary workday. A sedentary lifestyle is often associated with shorter lifespans and increased health issues, and increased anxiety and depression.
Isn’t it time to bring mindfulness and full-body stretches into your workday?
A Mindfulness Exercise to Curb Anxiety & Stiff Muscles
While many of us are experiencing more stress and worry than usual lately, we are fortunate to have many different methods to combat anxiety and bring peace to the forefront of the mind. Although we’ve compiled a mindfulness exercise for you to try and incorporate into your day, feel free to customize these steps, including any extra techniques or tools that speak to you.
This exercise can be done anytime during the day, as many times as you’d like. However, it may be most beneficial early in the morning to kickstart your day and promote balance and harmony immediately.
Step 1: Practice Gratitude
To begin this exercise, we’re going to practice gratitude, which helps you feel more appreciative of the things that are already going well in your life. This helps you focus on the positive and brings your attention to the present moment, encouraging mindfulness and an optimistic attitude.
One way to practice gratitude might involve your favorite journal or notebook – try starting with a list of three things you feel grateful for each day.
As you begin to lean into and grow more comfortable with this mindfulness exercise, you can bulk that number up to 10, 20, or a list of even more things that bring your joy and happiness.
You might also want to try: Guided Meditation to Lower Anxiety & Raise Happiness
Step 2: Incorporate Meditation
Whether you practice meditation for 5 or 15 minutes, it’s an incredible way to bring more harmony into your life and combat anxiety and stress.
In fact, daily meditation can also reduce pain and inflammation, easing tense, tired muscles. And while it may seem intimidating at first, you won’t want to skip a day once you get comfortable with the practice.
Try including crystals in your meditation for an even more potent healing experience, whether that means holding one in your left palm or placing it near your body to allow your spirit to soak in the healing vibrations.
Each day, we post a new Daily Guided Meditation for even more inspiration and guidance!
Step 3: Stretch the Body With Yoga
Yoga is one of the best ways to stretch sore muscles and release tension and negativity from the body. In fact, it’s so healing that you might find that it feels addictive over time. Let’s take a look at a few of the most healing poses that will help pain and anxiety melt away.
This is one of the best yoga poses for strengthening the body and increasing blood flow – it’s a popular yoga pose for a good reason.
To get into a downward-facing dog, place your feet hip-width apart and walk your heads forward, planted on the ground above your head, until your body is in the shape of an upside-down V. This position gets your positive juices flowing and works those back muscles to help improve your posture.
Standing Forward Fold
Uttanasana, or standing forward fold, is an excellent pose for reducing anxiety and stress, as it provides a sense of release within the body and the mind.
Stand again with your feet hip-width apart, and slowly fold your body over, keeping your back flat and straight. Only go as far as is comfortable for your body. For a deeper stretch, clasp your arms together hand-to-elbow, allowing them to dangle freely over your head – relaxing your shoulders and deepening your stretch.
Slow Neck Stretches
With all of the hunching over screens we partake in, our necks can be a particularly sore area. Additionally, we often carry stress and tension in our neck and shoulders, making slow neck stretches an especially healing and beneficial practice to include in your mindfulness exercise.
Sitting comfortably, try leaning your left ear directly over your left shoulder. Wrap your left arm around your head and slowly, gently ease that stretch further. Repeat on the other side when finished.
You can also slowly roll your neck in gentle circles, stretching those muscles and helping that tension melt away.
Read this article next: Combat Neck & Shoulder Pain With These 7 Yoga Poses
Step 4: Work With Essential Oils
After you’ve stretched the body, it’s time to treat your senses to soothing, calming essences.
There’s a reason that essential oils have been growing in popularity in recent years – their natural healing properties provide balancing, healing energy via the limbic system.
One wildly popularly and incredibly beneficial oil to keep on hand at all times is lavender essential oil. This oil calms the senses, promotes mental focus, and reduces anxiety. You can simply dilute your lavender oil with a carrier oil, like almond or avocado, place it on your wrists and temples, and breathe deeply to penetrate your spirit with balancing, harmonious energy.
Other essential oils for mindfulness and calm include:
- Holy Basil
- Ylang Ylang
Step 5: Wrap it Up With Positive Affirmations
Practicing positive affirmations daily has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, increase physical activity, thicken skin, and deepen our emotional connections. This is yet another example of how easy it is to customize this mindfulness exercise, as you can create your own unique positive affirmations to practice each day.
Wrapping up your exercise with positive affirmations will help you keep your mind focused on things that lift you up, rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed with anxious, racing thoughts.
You Got This!
Remember that if you’re struggling with anxiety, stiff muscles, and a workday that includes more sitting than activity, you’re not alone. And while you might not feel particularly motivated right now, taking small steps to include this exercise in your daily life will help you turn that attitude around and get back into an enthusiastic, positive state of mind.
Don’t you deserve to feel relaxed in both body and mind?
Related article: 6 Powerful Exercises to Ease Anxiety