Quick Ways of Managing Your Anxious Thoughts Mindfully

By Joelle Jane Marshall

Part of Managing Anxiety with Mindfulness For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Mindfulness isn’t about stopping thoughts, trying to suppress them or having a clear mind. Rather it is about bringing them to the surface with awareness and curiosity so you can manage them. Once you change your attitude and perception towards your thoughts, they can lose their power over you.

Here are some quick exercises to manage your thoughts mindfully.

  • Leaves floating down a stream: Take a few mindful breaths and imagine that you are standing by a stream. When you become aware of a thought, place it on a leaf and watch it float away downstream.

  • Bubbles: Take a few mindful breaths and visualise bubbles floating through the air. Imagine your thoughts inside those bubbles, gently floating away.

  • Clouds in the sky: Visualise clouds in the sky, floating high above you. When you become aware of a thought, place it on a cloud and watch it float away.

  • Label your thoughts: When an anxious thought arises, try to label it if you can. Are you worrying, judging, planning or being self-critical?

  • Thought or fact? Notice the thought that you are having. Is it a thought or a fact? Thoughts are just thoughts and are not necessarily facts.

  • Write it down: Write down the thoughts that you are having. Sometimes just the very act of writing something down can feel like a release.

  • Mountain Meditation: Imagine a tall and majestic mountain, standing strong in all seasons and all weathers. Now imagine yourself as this mountain, standing strong and tall. Imagine your emotions and thoughts are like the seasons, ever-changing and never permanent. They come and go, but you remain stable, balanced and grounded.

    You are unaffected by your thoughts and emotions, just like the mountain is unaffected by the seasons. Your true essence is remains constant, just like the mountain.