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Meditation and being mindful can help soften feelings of anxiousness, reduce stress, and calm a panic attack

Illustration of 6 people all sat meditating in different postitions

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What is it?

Meditation is when you use an activity or technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to become more aware, more mentally clear and emotionally calm and in a stable state.

An important aspect of meditation is being present in the current moment, trying not to worry about what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future.

How does it help?

Meditation can help you be calmer, balanced and more content in your own company. Lots of people enjoy the quiet time as a break from their busy day.

Meditation can take practice so do not worry if you find it difficult to start with. Generally people find the more they practise it the easier they find it.

There is no way to do meditation wrong, your experience is unique each time. It is normal to find that meditation will be easier on some days than others.

Some of the mental benefits of meditation include

  • improved concentration and focus
  • improved self-esteem
  • increased sense of kindness to yourself and others
  • increased awareness of yourself and your surroundings
  • reduced levels of anxiety and stress

And some of the physical benefits are that it

  • improves blood circulation
  • reduces high blood pressure
  • lowers heart rate
  • Increases quality of sleep
  • helps with a stronger immune system

How do I do it?

There are loads of different ways to meditate, below are some examples, you can give these a go but will likely find lots of other ways too.

Mindful Breathing

The main function of mindful breathing is to focus your attention on your breath, on the inhale and the exhale. Notice where you can feel the breath coming in and out of your body. Can you feel the cool air by your nostrils or maybe you can feel your stomach expanding with the in breath and deflating on the out breath.

You can do mindful breathing while standing, but you may be more comfortable sitting or even lying down.

You can have your eyes open or closed or maybe just maintaining a soft gaze, with your eyes partially open but not focusing on anything in particular.

It can help to set aside a designated time for this exercise, but it can also help to practise it when you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious. The more you practise mindful breathing when you are calm, the easier it is to then use in difficult situations.

Walking meditation

If you find sitting or standing still difficult you may prefer to be more active and a walking meditation may work well for you. It involves paying attention to an action that we often do every day without a second thought.

Headspace introduces and explains this well:

Body scan

This practice is often done lying down and involves scanning your body, from top to toe in a non judging way. The aim is to notice how you are feeling, both mentally and physically - noticing if there is a link between your emotions and physical health.

If you are in physical pain the body scan can be a helpful way to notice where it is you are hurting. A body scan may not cure physical health problems but can make you more accepting of noticing the pain.

If you haven’t done a body scan before then it can be useful to listen to a guided meditation, someone saying out loud which parts of the body to focus on. There is an example below. Once you have done this a few times you may want to practise on your own, going at a pace that suits you and focusing on particular parts of your body which need more attention.

One of the founding people to do a body scan is Jon Kabat-Zinn. You can find his body scans on youtube:

Meditations for sleep

If you are feeling restless, guided meditations like this can ease your mind and body into falling asleep.

Mindful eating

The aim here is to move from mindless eating to mindful eating. Put simply this is being more aware and present when we eat.

A way of doing this is practising with a raisin. There are different stages to this

Doing this exercise is a way of focusing your mind and avoiding you getting caught up in the buddy thoughts in your mind.

The raisin here is just an example, you can do this with anything you like how about trying a sherbert lemon sweet or a piece of your favourite chocolate

Mindful colouring

Some people enjoy colouring as a way of being present and in the moment. It can be helpful to think about what colours you are using and what you are colouring as a way of capturing your concentration and attention. By focusing on the colouring you are not worrying about the past or the future but are spending time being present.

You can buy specific mindfulness colouring books but you can also get this as an app to use on your phone/tablet if you prefer.

Apps that can help

Headspace: Mindful Meditation

Stress less. Sleep soundly. Get happy. Learn meditation and mindfulness in a few minutes a day with Headspace. Choose from hundreds of guided meditations on everything from stress and everyday anxiety management to sleep, personal growth, and mind-body health. Meditate anywhere, anytime — and start living a more calm, healthier, happier life.

Headspace: Mindful Meditation at the Apple app storeHeadspace: Mindful Meditation at the google play store

Insight Timer - Meditation App

The number 1 free meditation app. Guided meditations, sleep music tracks and talks led by the top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more.

Insight Timer - Meditation App at the Apple app storeInsight Timer - Meditation App at the google play store

Color Me | Free Adult Coloring Book for Adults App

Color Me | Free Adult Coloring Book for Adults App has 100s of high quality coloring pages and books for you to color, paint, and draw on. Colorfy and recolor them any way you like. Once you're done, share them with others!

Color Me | Free Adult Coloring Book for Adults App at the Apple app storeColor Me | Free Adult Coloring Book for Adults App at the google play store

Calm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax

Calm is for anyone, whether you’re brand new to meditation or a seasoned expert. It’s also for anyone who needs a mental break, a soothing sound, or a peaceful night’s rest.

Calm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax at the Apple app storeCalm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax at the google play store


Meditation that adapts to you. Improve your sleep, stress, and more.

Balance at the Apple app storeBalance at the google play store

Useful links

YouTubeMindfulness Body Scan - Jon Kabat-ZinnNHS - MindfulnessMIndful - How to Meditate