Have you ever had that feeling of utter hopelessness? Or, have you ever felt so panicked, your heart rate is through the roof and you don’t know how you’re going to get through the day? You are not alone. These feelings of depression and anxiety are common to many people.

When you feel like this it is really important to get help; to talk to someone who feels safe, and who will understand what’s going on. That’s where a good psychologist can really help. Your GP can also help, by looking at whether medication might be right for you. And, there is mindfulness, which has been proven again and again, to be able to help you reduce the feelings of hopelessness, and calm the panic. But remember, if your feelings of depression or anxiety are extreme, it is really important to seek professional help immediately.

Mindfulness just means getting yourself into the present moment, with kindness and compassion. That way, instead of feeling hopeless or worried about the past or the future, you can learn to feel calm and safe right now.

Lots of my clients say to me, even when they try and practice mindfulness, they can’t because their thoughts just keep coming at them like annoying mosquitoes, or stealth bombers.

It’s true. Thoughts can get in the way. But, through mindfulness, we can also learn to unhook from our thoughts, and bring our attention to our breathing.

So, I’m going to give you a short mindfulness exercise that you can use anywhere, at any time of the day or night.  You can do it sitting up or lying down; with your eyes open or closed. And it only takes between two to five minutes.  They key is to practice it as much as possible.

Short Mindfulness Exercise

Wherever you are, whether you are sitting or lying down, stop, and either close your eyes or look softly at the ground in front of you or the ceiling above you.

Bring your attention to the feelings of your body touching the chair, bed or floor.

Now, notice your breathing. Notice the air going in and out of your nostrils. Notice whether the air is colder breathing in and warmer breathing out, as it is warmed by your lungs.

When thoughts take over such as “I can’t do this!” “I’m too stressed for this!” just notice them and bring your attention back to your breath. Hang in there!

Now bring your attention to the soles of your feet. Notice any sensations in your feet – is there tingling, or do they feel numb? Nothing is wrong or right. Just notice what ever is there.

Direct your breath right down to the soles of your feet. Just do this for two to five breaths, or longer if you want.

Slowly open your eyes, or shift your gaze from the floor or ceiling.

Congratulations! You have done your first mindfulness session.