1 Minute Mindfulness Exercises to Try

Mindful Monday! Here are some easy ways to be more mindful daily.

Welcome to Mindful Monday, thanks for being here.

My Battle with Anxiety and Why Mindfulness Helps

I’ve said this before but at 17, I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. Not from a psychiatrist or another mental health care provider but from the cardiologist that administered my ECG and stress test. I was referred by the doctor in charge of my physical for my Canadian student visa after he heard a heart murmur during my exam.

There was never any medication prescribed or a referral was given to see a mental health doctor. He simply told me to stop worrying so much and sent me on my way. Years went by and my symptoms were far worse at times when life was particularly stressful.

My symptoms ranged from burning in my chest with a sharp pain that extended down my left arm accompanied by the feeling that death was imminent. Other times my stomach would be upset, sometimes I’d have the sick feeling of dread in my stomach, my skin would prickle or tingle. There were times when I’d itch all over but a prickling felt followed or proceeded by chills. Then there were was the shortness of breath or feelings of being smothered. These symptoms would oscillate.

Still, I went through it without any coping mechanism besides binge drinking which made some of the symptoms appear the next day. I began to self medicate with cannabis but if I had too much, the symptoms would be intensified and paranoia would accompany it.

I had no relief. I also felt as if I couldn’t visit a mental health care provider because let’s face it, who wants to spend $250 an hour just to talk to someone. But beyond that I had internalized so much stigma about seeking help for my mental health I instead, choose to suffer in silence. This year I made an unofficial New Year’s Resolution to get a diagnosis and begin treatment for my mental health.

In January, I was diagnosed with major depression and panic disorder. Getting that diagnosis left me feeling vindicated and free. I’ve since been taking a cocktail of Prozac and Zyprexa and I’ve had major improvements in my mood and sleep.

But medication isn’t the only thing needed to help me manage my panic disorder, which is a classed under anxiety disorder. Last year I began implementing mindfulness into my daily life and it was a game-changer for the symptoms I felt daily.

Anxiety disorders come because we spend a lot of time thinking about the future that hasn’t happened yet. Mindfulness is the antithesis where you pull yourself into the present. You only consider the here and now. It can calm the feelings of dread and hold anxiety at bay.

I’ve mentioned exercises I’ve used before but here are some quick 1-Minute Mindfulness exercises you can use to mitigate anxiety fast.

1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises

I didn’t invent these. I read them on Psych Central and have begun adopting them whenever I feel a little frazzled by panic. You’d be surprised how simple these tiny exercises can be so powerful, enough to pull me from the edge when I’m teetering.

 Below are 9 mindfulness exercises you can do in a minute or under.

  1. Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour.
    Do a fake yawn if you have to. That will trigger real ones. Say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.

    Then stretch slowly for at least 10 seconds. Notice any tightness and say “ease” or just say hello to that place (being mindful — noticing without judgment). Take another 20 seconds to notice and then get back to what you were doing.

  2. Three hugs, three big breaths exercise.
    Hug someone tight and take 3 big breaths together. Even if they don’t breathe with you, your breathing will ground them

  3. Stroke your hands.
    Lower or close your eyes. Take the index finger of your right hand and slowly move it up and down on the outside of your fingers. Once you have mindfully stroked your left hand, swap and let your left hand stroke the fingers of your right hand.

  4. Mindfully eat a raisin.
    Take a raisin or a piece of chocolate and mindfully eat it. Slow down, sense it, savor it and smile between bites. Purposefully slow down. Use all your senses to see it, touch it, smell it, and sense it.

    Then gently pop it into your mouth and savor it. Savor its texture, its taste, how it feels in your mouth. Let it linger and then swallow it. After you have swallowed it, let your lips turn up slightly and smile. Do the same thing for each raisin you eat or bite you take.

  5. Clench your fist and breathe into your fingers.
    Position your fingers and thumbs facing down. Now clench your fist tightly. Turn your hand over so your fingers and thumbs are facing up and breathe into your fist. Notice what happens.

  6. STOP.
    Stand up and breathe. Feel your connection to the earth.
    Tune in to your body. Lower your gaze. Scan your body and notice physical sensations or emotions. Discharge any unpleasant sensations, emotions or feelings on the out-breath. Notice any pleasant ones and let them fill you up on the in-breath.
    Observe. Lift your eyes and take in your surroundings. Observe something in your environment that is pleasant and be grateful for it and its beauty.
    Possibility. Ask yourself what is possible or what is new or what is a forward step.

    If you find yourself being reactive, try the following steps:
    Pause and take one to three big breaths.
    Say “step back.” ( You don’t have to physically step back, you can just do it in your mind.)
    Say “clear head.”
    Say “calm body.”
    Breathe again. Say “relax,” “melt” or “ease.”

  7. Mindful breathing for one minute.
    Lower your eyes and notice where you feel your breath. That might be the air going in and out at your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or stomach. If you can’t feel anything, place your hand on your stomach and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with your breath. If you like, you can just lengthen the in-breath and the out-breath or just breathe naturally. Your body knows how to breathe.

    Focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, as it will do, just bring your attention back to your breath. You might like to say ‘thinking’ when you notice your thoughts and just gently shepherd your attention back to your breath.

    This can be done for longer than one minute. However, even for one minute, it will allow you to pause and be in the moment. Or you might just like to breathe out stress on the out-breath and breathe in peace on the in-breath.

  8. Loving-kindness meditation.
    For one minute, repeat ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.’ You can substitute “you” for “I” and think of someone you know and like, or just send love to all people.

  9. An aspiration.
    Decide on an aspiration. Just ask yourself this question: What is my heart’s aspiration? Pause for about 20 seconds. Do this a second or third time and write down what comes. Perhaps it is to come from love, or to be kind to yourself or others or to be patient.

    Once you decide which aspiration you like best, say that at the beginning of the day. This will set you up for your day and your interactions with others (and even with yourself).

New Stories On Medium | Friend Links

I’ve been keeping with my challenge to write and post daily on Medium. I think this is much in part to my mental health breakthrough. I’ve been feeling a lot better with more focus. No more brain fog, scattered thoughts or frayed attention span.

So, I’ve written a few stories since you’ve last been here. As always these are friend links. Don’t forget to CLAP 50 times, this helps me to be distributed further to other readers. If you’re a Medium member then I make money from your readership.

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See you next week for Why? Wednesday!