Don’t Worry. Be Mindful.

Let’s face it—we live in anxious times, much of it brought about by change. With sweeping change in Washington, change in climate, or—closer to home—change in healthcare policy, people are, well, worried. Big change, with all of its unknowns, often has that effect on people—and it can tie us up in knots.

So what’s the antidote? In a word: mindfulness. While it’s not new, it’s effective, since worry often has more to do with thoughts of the past or the future, than it does the present moment. So getting out of your head when worry sets in is one of the best ways to squelch it on the spot. Try these three quick mindfulness tips the next time worry sets in. You can do them at anytime, anywhere, and the more you do, the more your worry decreases and your health improves.

1. Anchoring

Anchoring is grounding yourself in your body, in other words, getting out of your worried head. Direct your attention to your lower body, starting at your feet, and notice everything—from the way your foot feels in your shoe to the how your sock hugs your ankle and continue up through your lower body. Just moving your attention in this way will calm you almost immediately—so be sure to keep an anchor in your purse or your pocket.

2. Belly Breathing

Ever notice how a baby breathes when sleeping? Their bellies naturally rise and fall with long, deep, regular breaths. Take a tip from the little ones and begin to breathe deeply, letting your belly rise as you slowly count to five, and fall as you slowly count to five. Even three such breaths can cover you with a blanket of calm within moments.

3. Finger Breathing

Another quick and easy mindfulness technique, finger breathing, combines both breathing and the sense of touch. Fan your hand out on your desk or tabletop, and using the pointer finger of the opposite hand, begin to trace the fanned hand, starting with the thumb. Inhale as you trace the outside of the thumb, then exhale as you trace the inside of the thumb. Continue this with each finger. Also notice the sensation of touch as you trace with your finger. This particular exercise is very helpful as it involves two distinct points of focus—and again, its soothing effects can be felt almost immediately.

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