As I mentioned here, the idea for today’s post came from numerous hits my site has gotten over the last year or so about mindfulness exercises for bad moods.
I purposefully narrowed down this list to a a few exercises that are quick and easy to do because that’s exactly what I need when I’m down in the dumps. Complicated instructions and lengthy lists are best saved for more cheerful days, I think.
If you know of other quick and easy exercises like these, do jump into the comment section below and share. There are many other visualization techniques out there, and they range from simple ones like I’m about to share to much more complex routines.
A Gratitude Challenge
Time commitment: 1 minute
Best for: Reframing your thoughts
Step 1 – Close your eyes
Step 2 – Make a list of three things you’re genuinely grateful for. Literally anything counts, and there are no wrong answers. Sometimes I count the friendly pigeons who live in front of my building as one of my answers. They’re also so curious to see what the humans are up to when we wander by.
Step 3 – Open your eyes
The Balloon Game
Time commitment: 1-5 minutes
Best for: Letting go and interrupting rumination
Step 1: Close your eyes and make a list of the things that are currently bothering you. They could be anything: unresolved conflicts, regrets, old conversations that keep replaying in your mind, and anything else that can’t be fixed right now or ever.
Step 2: Visualize as many balloons as you need for your list. I like to spend at least a minute picturing their colours and shapes in detail before imagining my problems listed on them.
Step 3: Imagine releasing each balloon into the sky on a windy day. (I once lost a balloon this way as a kid. They escape so quickly you can never chase them down again!) If or when that thought pops up again, remind yourself that it’s been blown away now. There’s no way to chase it down again.
Big Deep Breaths
Time commitment: As long or as short as you want it to be.
Best for: Living in the moment and calming racing thoughts.
Step 1: Search for breathe calming gifs like this one. You’ll want to keep your eyes open for this exercise.
Step 2: Synchronize your breathing so that you inhale when the image expands and exhale when it contracts. Some of these gifs are specifically designed to slow down the breathing cycle a little for users. That in and of itself can distract you from thoughts that stubbornly stick around.
Step 3: Repeat as many times as necessary.