We can do all the yoga and positive affirmations in the world, but that doesn’t make any of us immune to the occasional (or often) dreaded anxiety. We’re all familiar with stress running the show, but next time you feel the all-too-familiar anxiety creeping in out of nowhere to totally ruin your day, a body scan meditation is one way to halt it in its tracks.
This quick approach is perfect to store in your mental toolbox. A body scan meditation is so simple but very effective, and it only takes 30 seconds! In such a short amount of time, it can ground you and reduce anxiety almost instantly.
What Are the Benefits of a Body Scan Meditation?
While anxiety often feels like a battle waged in our heads, there’s truly no separating the mental from the physical. The two are far more intertwined than we even realize.
While a body scan meditation is a mental practice, it allows us to connect back to our physical bodies, slow down, and calm our thoughts when they are racing or frantic. Like all forms of meditation, doing even a super quick body scan trains us to press pause on our swirling thoughts and focus, even for a few seconds, on the present moment.
Have you ever noticed when you’re caught up in anxiety that it feels like external situations are happening “to you,” in an abstract way? By coming back into the physical with a body scan, we can notice sensations of anxiety manifesting in our bodies – like a tight neck, pinched shoulders, or shallow breath.
Body scan meditations remind us that we are in the driver’s seat, and that nothing is permanent!
By noticing these feelings (more on how to do this in a sec), our anxiety can feel more tangible and manageable.
Body scan meditations remind us that we are in the driver’s seat, and that nothing is permanent! As we tune into the feelings in our physical bodies (noticing where we’re carrying tension and letting our bodies soften and relax), it’s a powerful reminder that all experiences are dynamic and life is always changing.
Another huge benefit of body scans? If you identify as a Type-A person, you might often find yourself with a brain that just won’t chill. Doing a body scan meditation is a great way to channel this energy.
By giving ourselves a productive “task,” we can quiet swirling thoughts or negative self-talk that may be on repeat in our minds. Plus, it just plain feels good!
Follow These 5 Steps to Practice an Anxiety-Relieving Body Scan Meditation:
1. Get Cozy
First things first, get comfortable – whether you choose to cozy up on a couch or meditation pillow or step outside into the sunlight. Keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground can be helpful for greater connection and grounding.
On the go or not at home? No problem.
A great perk of doing a body scan meditation is that you can literally drop into it anytime, anywhere. If you’re stressed at your desk, sitting at a red light (just make sure you keep alert!), or even slipping into negative thoughts while at the gym, as long as it’s safe to, you can sink into a body scan meditation any time you feel the need.
2. Find Your Breath
Take a few deep breaths. If you’re neck-deep in anxiety, it’s likely been a hot minute since you remembered to truly breathe deeply . . . like, all the way down to your belly (four seconds in, four-second hold, and four seconds out is a good place to start).
Whenever you’re struggling to find your breath, use these 4 Go-To Breathing Exercises For Meditation, Stress Relief, and Overall Wellbeing
3. Become the Observer
Without judging or trying to change what you observe, simply notice the sensations in your body. Do you have clenched shoulders? A tightened jaw? Tightness in your neck?
Simply observe what you feel. It may be shocking once you stop and notice just how tense you’ve been without even realizing it. But again, don’t judge! Simply observe.
4. Notice Even More
Once you’ve become aware of sensations, take notice of a few other things like:
- The temperature of your hands
- The feeling of your clothing against your body
- The ground under your feet
- The smells and feeling of the air around you
All of these objective observations can help increase mindfulness and re-center you when it feels like your anxiety is running away.
5. Give Yourself Permission to Relax
Gently allow your body to relax, from head to toe.
Start by relaxing your facial muscles and jaw, neck, and shoulders. Even your tongue and throat might be holding anxiety, so let them go soft. Continue to breathe deeply as you relax all the way down to your toes.
Yoga is also a great tool to manage anxiety! Try Yoga for Anxiety: Practice These 8 Poses to Reduce Your Anxiety in Minutes
Use This Quick Body Scan Meditation as Your New Go-To Anxiety-Fighting Tool
New to meditation or finding this all a little abstract? You can totally use a guided body scan meditation if this helps you to center in and focus. As with all types of meditation, there’s no right or wrong way. So whether you use a guided version or sit in silence with yourself, you’re doing it right!
If you’re loving the way this quick body scan meditation feels, you can always take it up to the next level and go for five to 10 minutes, or longer! A body scan practice is a great way to begin your day, self-sooth over your lunch break, or wind down before going to sleep.
Try This Calm Mind Guided Meditation on YA Classes to Boost Your Anxiety-Fighting Skills!
With Carisa Banuelos
20-Minute Class | All Levels
Learning to feel and moderate your anxiety can be a long-term commitment, but it’s so worth it. Add a quick body scan meditation to your anti-anxiety toolbox regularly so you can continue to be your most Zen self!
If you need more anxiety-relieving tools, check out: Looking For Natural Anxiety Relief? Try These 5 Effective Remedies