11 Mindfulness Activities for Anxiety

Do you have anxiety? Even if you formerly felt mentally healthy, current events might have you experiencing symptoms of this mental disorder. 

How can you cope if you don’t have access to a qualified mental health provider? Fortunately, while holistic techniques require your active participation, some of them are free. Mindfulness is one such practice, and the 11 activities below can help you ease anxiety. 

1. 2-to-1 Breathing 

The most frequent way to practice mindfulness is to focus on your breath. However, did you know that your lungs and airways can help you to turn on the system in your body designed to help you relax? 

The 2-to-1 breathing technique activates your parasympathetic nervous system circuitry. This mechanism kicks in after you escape danger and prompts a decrease in stress hormone levels. All you need to do is inhale deeply, then exhale for twice as long. 

2. Belly and Heart Touch

Sometimes, you become anxious because you can’t escape the negative thought spiral twirling in your brain. When your mind races, centering yourself can help. 

Place one hand on your belly and another on your heart. Feel your body rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. As you breathe in, mentally say, “Right here, right now, I am OK,” and “relax” as you push the air out with a gentle yawning or humming sound. Repeat several times until you feel more centered. 

3. Do a Body Scan 

If you have chronic pain that worsens with anxiety, learning how to do a mindfulness body scan could ease your ache. Start by getting comfortable — you can sit or lay down. 

Then, starting at your toes, take a journey through your body and how it feels. When you encounter tight areas, breathe into them while envisioning sending healing energy to the spot. This process helps release muscle cramps and ease the pain. 

4. Take a Mindful Stroll 

Do you have a 15-minute break at work? Instead of using this time to scroll social media, take a stroll as a mindfulness activity for anxiety. 

While you walk, pay attention to the way your feet feel when they strike the pavement. Stop to pause and breathe periodically while you observe the way the air feels against your face. What sounds do you hear? What can you smell? 

5. Look Out the Window 

If you’d love to go outside, but the weather says no, why not look out the window? When you do, try to make it a view with a pleasing natural scene. Research indicates that gazing at nature can help you recover from acute stress. 

What if you work in a windowless warehouse? Save a bunch of photos of your favorite park or wildlife center on your phone. You can gaze at memories of grazing deer or autumn leaves to calm yourself. 

6. Care for Your Houseplants 

Your houseplants rely on you for care — did you water them this week? If not, why not take the time to nurture them a bit as a mindfulness anxiety activity?

If you have more time, you can give them a little TLC by pruning dead leaves and stems. Inspect for signs of disease and treat as necessary. The act of caring for another living thing can remind you of your value. 

7. Color a Picture 

Remember the joy of coloring when you were little? No rule says you can’t indulge as an adult. You can find books designed for those 18 and up — some feature colorful mandalas while others have naughtier subjects — whatever eases your stress. 

8. Whip up a Snack 

You might have heard about mindful eating. While you don’t need to spend 20 minutes chewing each bite, pay attention when you ready your meal. How do the colors and flavors blend? What does each ingredient bring to the dish? 

9. Knit a Hat 

Knitting keeps your hands busy — if part of your anxiety stems from stress-eating leading to weight gain, this tip can help break the cycle. It’s impossible to munch on Cheetos without fingerpainting your yarn orange. This exercise also focuses your attention on what you are doing and can help quiet racing thoughts. 

10. Perform a Sun Salutation 

Nearly every yoga form features sun salutations. This mind-body exercise uses roughly all your muscles while stretching and relaxing you. 

Begin by standing in mountain pose with your feet slightly apart. Stretch tall, then bend into a forward fold. Step or jump back to a plank position, then upward-facing dog. Finish with downward-facing dog, then return to standing. 

11. Pet Your Puppy 

Pets offer unconditional love and acceptance, and playing with them is a mindfulness activity for anxiety. If you have the time and the weather’s nice, take them to the park for an extra mood boost from the sunlight. However, if it’s dark, cuddling on the couch with your pup helps release oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of well-being. 

Try These Mindfulness Activities for Anxiety to Stay Calm Amid the Chaos 

When the world seems too much, you need a healthy coping mechanism to restore your sense of calm. Try these mindfulness activities for anxiety whenever your life gets chaotic.