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Derail Your Worry with Mindful Breathing

It’s the end of the summer and a time of transition for many people.  Whether you’re returning to school, have kids or family members starting school or are simply transitioning from a more relaxed summer to the structure and pressure of fall and winter, most experience change at this time of year.

Change can bring with it anxiety and worry.  Once the worrying and planning start, it’s often difficult to turn them off.  Mindfulness is a strategy to help you regain focus and take control of your thoughts, rather than be controlled by them.

One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness is to focus on your breathing.  It’s effective, possible to do anywhere and always with you.  The following is a straightforward mindfulness exercise designed to help you bring your attention to your breathing.  Because you’re unable to fully attend to two things at once, the worry thoughts slip away.

When you first practice focusing on your breathing, you should expect that your worries will intrude.  You might start the exercise with good intentions and a minute in find yourself lost in rumination.  If this is the case, bring yourself back to the exercise and start again.  The idea is to train your mind to come back to your breathing, rather than wander.  Training your mind takes some time and practice, so don’t give up if it doesn’t seem to work for you initially.

You can do this exercise anywhere.

  1. focus your attention on your breathing
  2. inhale, filling your lungs
  3. exhale. On each exhale count.  For example:  Inhale, Exhale, “one,” Inhale, exhale, “two” inhale, exhale “three” up to ten.
  4. When you reach 10 start over at 1
  5. if you lose count at any time, start over at 1
Derail Your Worry with Mindful Breathing

Christy Matta, MA

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2010). Derail Your Worry with Mindful Breathing. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Aug 2010
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