Embracing Mindfulness to Soothe Anxiety

8 May 2024by Mary Brennan

By Mary Brennan (Clinical Psychologist, Oqea Cares) & Dr Valeska Berg (Research Manager, Oqea)  

Practising mindfulness can improve well-being by enhancing awareness, acceptance, and patience. In this article we will explore different ways of practising mindfulness, its benefits, how to put it into practice and helpful resources to guide us. 

What is it? 

Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to the present moment with openness and curiosity. It can help reduce anxiety and depression by breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions, enhancing self-awareness and acceptance, and improving coping skills and resilience. Some practical strategies to practice mindfulness are: 


There are various forms of meditation that can cultivate mindfulness, such as breath awareness, body scan, gratitude, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). MBSR is an 8-week program that teaches participants how to use mindfulness to cope with stress, pain, and illness. It involves guided meditations, group discussions, and homework assignments.  

Daily activities  

Mindfulness can also be integrated into daily activities, such as eating, walking, or listening to music. The key is to focus on the sensory aspects of the experience, such as the taste, texture, sound, or smell, and to notice any thoughts or feelings that arise without judging them. 


Writing down one’s thoughts and feelings can help increase mindfulness and reduce anxiety and depression. It can also help identify patterns of negative thinking and challenge them with more realistic and positive perspectives. 

Breathing exercises  

Breathing exercises can help calm the nervous system and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, or sweating. One example is the 4-7-8 technique, which involves inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds. 


Yoga is a physical activity that combines movement, breathing, and meditation. It can help improve flexibility, strength, balance, and relaxation. It can also help reduce stress hormones and increase endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. 



Mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and depression by breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions, enhancing self-awareness and acceptance, and improving coping skills and resilience. Research has shown that mindfulness can help manage symptoms and potentially improve quality of life for individuals with various anxiety related disorders, including anxiety and depression (Hoffman et al., 2010), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; Wahl et al., 2013), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Goldsmith & Gerhart; Liu et al., 2022). While mindfulness is not a replacement for professional support or treatment, it may form part of a holistic or complementary approach to enhancing one’s well-being and mental health. 


Putting it into practice 

If you want to start practising mindfulness, you can try some of the following steps: 

  1. Choose a suitable time and place: Find a time and place that is convenient and comfortable for you to practice mindfulness. It can be in the morning, evening, or any time that suits your schedule. It can be in your bedroom, living room, garden, or any place that is quiet and relaxing. You can also use headphones or earplugs to block out any distracting noises. 
  2. Choose the duration of your practice: Decide how long you want to practice mindfulness for. It can be as short as five minutes or as long as an hour. You can use a timer, an app, or a meditation bell to remind you when to stop. Start with a shorter duration and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable and confident.
  3. Choose a technique: There are many techniques that can help you practice mindfulness, such as breath awareness, body scan, gratitude, or MBSR. You can use guided meditations, books, podcasts, or online courses to learn more about them. Choose a technique that appeals to you and that matches your goals and needs. We have included some apps in the ‘resource’ section below for you to try. 
  4. Focus on the present moment: The essence of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment with openness and curiosity. Whatever technique you choose, try to pay attention to your sensations, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judging them or trying to change them. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment. 
  5. Be patient and compassionate: Mindfulness takes time and practice to master. While it may pose challenges initially, refocusing by returning to the present moment and being patient with yourself are important steps toward incorporating mindfulness with consistency. Foster encouragement and compassion toward yourself and celebrate your progress. 

If you would like further help with anxiety, please get in touch with one of the qualified health professionals here. 


Apps (free) 



Goldsmith, R. E., & Gerhart, J. (2014). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms: Building Acceptance and Decreasing Shame. Journal Of Evidence-Based Complementary Altern Med, 19(4), 227–234. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156587214533703 

Hofmann, S. G., & Gómez, A. F. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression

Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 40(4), 739-749. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008 

Hofmann, S., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169–183. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018555  

Liu, Q., Zhu, J. J., & Zhang, W. (2022). The efficacy of mindfulness‐based stress reduction intervention 3 for post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in patients with PTSD: A meta‐analysis of four randomized controlled trials. Stress and Health, 38(4), 626–636. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.3138 

Microsoft Copilot. (2024). Conversation on anxiety. GitHub.

Wahl, K., Huelle, J. O., Zurowski, B., & Kordon, A. (2012). Managing Obsessive Thoughts during Brief exposure: An experimental study comparing Mindfulness-Based Strategies and Distraction in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37(4), 752–761. https://doi.org/10.1007/s106080129503-2