Do you have just a few minutes during your busy day to engage in self-care? Below are some options that can help take the edge off.
Explore and experiment. See which feel right to you.
Breathe - The surest way to regulate your body and mind.
- Take a slow, deep breath and draw your attention to the sensation of breath in your body. Trace your breath as it enters your nose, travels down your throat, expands your lungs, moves back up your throat, and passes through your mouth or nose.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take slow steady breaths and draw your attention to the sensations of expansion and relaxation.
- Practice square breathing. Close your eyes and picture a square. Breathe in for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Pause for a count of 4. Repeat three more times until you have completed all 4 sides of the square.
Connect with sensations - There is more to your experience than anxiety.
- Check in with each of your five senses. What do you see? What do you hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? Describe the information your are taking in in objective, non-emotional terms.
- Ground through your feet. Draw your attention to the sensation of your feet connecting with the ground. See if you can let go of any other thoughts or sensations. Shift your weight, wiggle your toes, any movement that will help you focus your attention.
- Focus your attention on the sensory experience of eating or drinking. Try to let go of judgements or associations and instead focus on the present experience.
Distract - If other thoughts or feelings arise, simply let them go. You will come back to them when you are ready.
- Close your eyes. Choose a color. Open your eyes. Count how many times you can find that color in your surroundings.
- Color in adult coloring book.
- Look at a colorful object. Name all of the colors you see in that object.
- List factual information about yourself. It could be your full name, social security number, telephone number, address, birth date, height - any facts that do you not feel weighed down with painful associations. Repeat as many times as necessary to feel calmer.
- Take a breath. Name an item you see. Take a breath. Name another item. Continue until you feel more relaxed.
- Draw your attention to an everyday object. Objectively describe it to yourself. See if you can let go of any judgements or associations. Imagine how you would describe it to an alien.
Listen - Let yourself go and focus on what feels good.
- Check out the mindfulness exercises provided by UCLA's mindfulness research program. The shortest is only 3 minutes long.
- Close your eyes as you listen to a relaxing song or a recording of nature sounds. Bring your attention to the sounds you are hearing. Let go of any thoughts or feelings that arise. If thoughts or feelings draw your attention, simply acknowledge them and let them go. You don't need them right now.