Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Anxiety—Especially During the Holidays

By Kendra Penski on October 18, 2021 in Blog

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Family gathering around the table with food and drinks.

The holidays are right around the corner, so here are a few mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and get you through the season. 

It seems that 2021 has come and gone. Where has the time gone? For many of us, it feels just as 2020 did, with a lot of unknown and uncertainty. Now as we reach October, we remember that the holidays are coming up and that means potentially seeing family again! For some of us, it was nice to not have to travel last year for the holidays, but this year may be different where you have to put up with that one family member you can’t stand. In most families, there is always that one person in our family that drives everyone crazy, let alone all of the planning and energy that goes into making the perfect holiday. No matter how hectic the holidays are, anxiety-reducing exercises can help.

Using Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Anxiety

Unfortunately, we can’t plan for the unknown or the “what if” in life, but we can control our reactions to some of these live events. This blog is to help teach mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety that you can use for those “I want to pull my hair out” moments during the holidays. These tips and tricks can help you avoid anxiety and create a more mindful and enjoyable holiday season. I like to call these grounding techniques. There are many different types of grounding techniques you can do, and continue to try them out until you find one that is best for you. I will provide you with two examples of mental exercises to reduce anxiety that you can try out. 

Examples of Exercises to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

One example is body awareness. This helps bring awareness to the body and bring you back to the “here-and-now” by guiding you to shift your focus to notice sensations in the body. The other is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique and this helps you notice your surroundings by using each of your senses to relax. This is best used when we can notice small details that your mind would not usually hear.

Body Awareness Exercise:

 Wherever you are at, notice your surroundings and follow these steps:

  1. I want you to take 5 long, deep breaths through your nose, and exhale through puckered lips.
  2. Place both feet flat on the floor. Wiggle your toes. Curl and uncurl your toes several times. Spend a moment noticing the sensations in your feet.
  3. Stomp your feet on the ground several times. Pay attention to the sensations in your feet and legs as you make contact with the ground.
  4. Clench your hands into fists, then release the tension. Repeat this 10 times.
  5. Press your palms together. Press them harder and hold this pose for 15 seconds. Pay attention to the feeling of tension in your hands and arms.
  6. Rub your palms together briskly. Notice the sound and the feeling of warmth.
  7. Reach your hands over your head like you are trying to reach the sky. Stretch like this for 5 seconds. Bring your arms down and let them relax at your side. 
  8. Take 5 more deep breaths and notice the feeling of calm in your body.

5-4-3-2-1 Exercise:

  • What are 5 things you can see? Look for small details such as a pattern on the ceiling, the way light reflects off a surface, or an object you hadn’t noticed before
  • What are 4 things you can feel? Notice the sensation of clothing on your body, the sun on your skin, the chair you are sitting in.
  • What are 3 things you can hear? Pay special attention to the sound your mind has tuned out, such as ticking off the clock, distant traffic, wind or trees blowing, etc.
  • What are 2 things you can smell? Try to notice smells around you, like freshly mowed grass, an air freshener, candles, something that has a scent.
  • What is 1 thing you can taste? A good tip is to carry gym, candy, or a small snack for this step. Put one in your mouth and focus your attention closely on the flavors.

These mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety have been proven to help reduce anxiety, stress, worry, fear, and overall exhaustion. Try practicing one of these exercises daily or when a difficult or stressful situation arises, especially during the holidays! But always remember, you are not alone in the holiday stress! Try to enjoy this season and practice using a gratitude list/journal of the things you are grateful for this upcoming season. If you want to learn more about mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety, contact us today! 

Exercises provided by therapistaid.com