Mention mindfulness to me I start sweating, itching, and strategize my exit that includes rolling under tables, jumping over chairs, and ducking around anything that gets in my way. This even after a summer of morning meditations I finally stretched out to 20 minutes at a time. I may or may not have improved the rest of my day, but for about three months I set out to meditation and succeeded.
If meditation is not your thing I have found other mindful activities that help me slow down and ground myself in times of anxiety.
Depending on the situation, it may be only 3 slow deep breaths, or five minutes of mindful breathing (some may define the latter as meditation, but I do not because it will freak me out)
For about five minutes just experience what is going on. If there is noise, listen to it, if there is activity, concentrate on it, if people are moving, find the rhythm. Just pay attention to everything. I read about this one in reference to panic attacks. When feeling one come on, start experiencing what is real and concrete. If you are a stickler for specifics, the next suggestion will provide guidance.
Five Senses Exercises*
Notice five things you can see
Look around, bring attention to five things. Something not normally noticed, a shadow, a crack in the concrete, a brick in a building, etc.
Notice four things to feel
Bring awareness to four things touching you, the texture of pants on the leg, air on skin, temperature, pressure, etc.
Notice three things you can hear
Listen to birds, motors humming, traffic
Notice two things you can smell
Find the things usually filtered out, pleasant or unpleasant
Notice one thing you can taste
Drink a glass of water and pay attention to what it tastes like, can it be described. No water available? Use anything, even taste the air.
Most of us have some kind of exercise routine. The key word here is “routine”. Many of us have earbuds in, music playing, listening to books, or watching TV, ANYTHING to distract us from exercise. Recently though I was doing some functional work with a medicine ball. This specific exercise was lifting it up on one side of my body, lifting it overhead, and down the other side. Simple enough. Normally, I am just counting and thinking of other things, but this time I wondered, “why am I rushing?”
With that, I decided not to rush and to consider every part of my body that was activated while moving through these movements. Not only was it almost enjoyable, it gave me an appreciation for my body, the muscles, bones, ligaments, my mind, it all worked together, and I was the conductor. Pretty cool.