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Mindfulness: 6 techniques to center yourself amid absolute chaos

Even if you only have 30 seconds, we got you.

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Anxiety, depression, and stress often stand in the way of achieving our daily goals like so many brick walls blocking our path.

But you can refocus your energy to navigate these obstacles and get back on track.

There are science-backed techniques that, while not long-term fixes for mental health problems, can work as coping strategies in the moment.

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Known as centering, the practice aims to draw your attention to your focus and energy levels.

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Centering often features in meditation or yoga as a way to tap into your breathing and emotional state.

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And some scientific research hints centering, as well as other mindfulness practices, can be extremely good for boosting our focus, as well as brain health more generally.

Here are 6 techniques to help center yourself:

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6. Slow down

When you’re in crisis mode, actively pulling yourself out of the rush can help you find peace again.

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If you can, try taking a step back from your work for just a few minutes.

Making a habit of working in spurts — 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off — can improve focus in the long run.

5. Breathe

Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you’re stressed? It’s not an uncommon stress reflex — this is the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response in action.

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Pausing to take deep, intentional breaths can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and override your body’s evolutionary fight-or-flight response.

4. Concentrate on your surroundings

Try actively observing your environment and your place in it — this is called mindfulness.

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Ask yourself:

What do you smell?

What do you hear?

What objects stand out in your field of vision?

Can you feel anything brushing your skin?

3. Pay attention to your thoughts

Another part of mindfulness is paying attention to your internal landscape. Try considering each thought as it comes into your head, one by one.

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Are there emotions attached to the thoughts? Try to focus on feeling without judging yourself.

Mindfulness is known to increase compassion and empathy — you can extend that grace to yourself, too.

2. Make a gratitude list

It might sound a bit cheesy, but writing down a list of everything you’re thankful for has more mental and physical benefits than you might realize.

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Studies show gratitude can help alleviate anxiety, mitigate stress, and promote emotional wellbeing.

Drawing attention to the good things in your life can be the thing you need to recenter your attention on what matters most.

1. Try guided or movement meditation

If you want to take your centering practice to the next level, consider working with a meditation coach or yoga teacher.

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Physical meditation, such as yoga or tai chi, can bridge the gap between your body and mind — and have positive effects on both.

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