Now that you have a bead on how you’re breathing right now, let’s take your awareness further. A mindful breathing pattern can melt away tension.
Get in a comfortable position—ideally sitting or lying down—and blow all the air out of your lungs slowly. Now, inhale, hold, and exhale your breath in a 4-7-8 pattern. Flip the cards below for guidance.
Want extra guidance? Breath with this graphic as many times as you’d like—noting how you feel each time you inhale, hold, and exhale.
Stay in the present by bringing your awareness to the rest of your body and surroundings. A grounding practice—engaging various senses to root you in the here and now—can help. Expand the rows below for a guided walk-through.
Run your tongue over your teeth and gums, and pay attention to the taste of your mouth. If you have a snack, take a bite, and notice the texture and flavors. Here are several foods with distinct textures and flavors to engage your sense of taste:
Sip a refreshing, ice-cold drink or a steaming cup of tea.
Suck on a mint or sour hard candy.
Bite into something crunchy, like kale chips, carrots, celery, or trail mix.
Chew a piece of peppermint gum.
Savor a piece of dark chocolate.
Notice the feel of the fabric of your pants, the smooth grain of your desk, or the softness of your sweater. Now, pay attention to the pressure of your feet pushing into the ground. Here are a few more ways to experience the textures around you:
Focus on the smells around you. Is someone heating their lunch in the microwave? Is a pot of coffee brewing? Do you catch a whiff of someone’s cologne or perfume? Close your eyes, and take a deep breath to notice subtle smells. Here are a few more ideas for engaging your sense of smell:
Burn incense or light a candle.
Open your windows for some fresh air.
Try calming essential oils, like chamomile or lavender.
If you’re able, engage your sense of sight. Look around the room and study the color variations, angles, curves, and textures. Try the following:
Count the people or pieces of furniture around you.
Take a mental inventory of the colors and shapes you see.
Notice how the light falls in the room and the shadows it creates.
Look at the pictures on your desk.
Close your eyes and envision something rejuvenating and peaceful, like your favorite vacation spot or your bed at home.
If you can, close your eyes and fully engage your sense of hearing. What do you notice? Birds chirping, the whirring of the air conditioner, or cars driving by? Try the following:
Turn on calming instrumental music.
Hang wind chimes near an open window.
Add a small water feature to your desk.
Tip: You can also press “play” and listen to this calming nature soundtrack as you engage your hearing.