Sometimes, all you need is five minutes of self-care to feel better.

Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years and there’s a good reason why. Research suggests that mindfulness is useful for well-being, physical health and mental health.

Mindfulness is the state of mind whereby a person is fully present and aware of where they are and what they are doing in the present moment; their entire awareness is on what  they are experiencing in the here and now.

In a previous Pocketcoach article we talked about mindfulness a little bit in the context of wider meditations. In this article we will focus on five different 5-minute mindfulness exercises to help with anxiety.

1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

You might recall learning about loving-kindness meditation in an earlier article. We summarised this technique as a practice that cultivates and nurtures feelings of unconditional  love and kindness towards oneself and others using silent mantras or phrases.

Here is how you do it:

  • You begin this technique by finding a comfortable seated position where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Before you begin with your chosen phrases, imagine yourself sitting in a large, warm ray of sunlight. Imagine the light filling you with complete physical and emotional wellness and peace. Feel love and kindness fill your body as if with liquid sunlight.
  • Then repeat your phrases silently to yourself while staying focused on sending unconditional love and kindness to yourself and/or to others. Phrases like:

May I be happy. May I be healthy.May I feel peace. May I be safe. May I live with ease.

  • Continue to repeat throughout the length of your meditation.
  • You can also visualize this meditation by picturing the person you are sending these thoughts to; it could be you, a loved one, or even a stranger.

2. Mindful Hand Awareness

The mindful hand awareness exercise is a really simple way to draw your attention away from your thoughts and into your physical awareness.

  • Start by clenching your fists tightly for five seconds, and then release and notice how your hands feel.
  • Try to attend to this feeling for as long as possible.
  • Continue with the same technique, clenching, and if you feel like you want to do it for longer, you can.
  • Really focus on the feeling of your hands after you release them.

3. Music appreciation

Music is everywhere these days, so why not use it to improve your well-being?

  • Put on one of your favourite songs and pay attention.
  • Pay attention to how this exact piece of music makes you feel.
  • Ask yourself: What emotions am I experiencing?
  • What memories come up? How do they make you feel?
  • Hold on and savour the emotions you are feeling, allowing them to flow into the rest of your day.

4. Game of Fours

Another nice and easy one. You just have to notice four things in your day-to-day life that you usually wouldn't. If you find this one hard, try using the different senses. Here's an example:

  • The scent of the shampoo you use
  • The bright flowers you see on the walk to work
  • The laughter of young children playing
  • The taste of your next home cooked meal

5. A Gratitude Journal

A great prompt if you already journal and a great way to start journaling if you don't. List 10 new things you're thankful for every day. Yep, that's it! But here are a few pointers to help you if you get stuck:

  • Be specific - rather than talk about it being nice seeing your family, say how grateful you were for the long hug from your mum.
  • Don't forget the things you already have, you don't always have to write about new things.