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Alcohol and Mental Health

Can Mindfulness Techniques Relieve Anxiety?

July 11, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 11, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 11, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 11, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 11, 2023
8 min read

It’s Friday evening, and you’re at a party. Music pulses in the background, laughter echoes around the room, and conversations flow like a meandering river. However, instead of enjoying the lively atmosphere, you find yourself grappling with a disconcerting wave of anxiety. Your heart races, your palms become clammy, and your mind transforms into a whirlpool of distressing thoughts.

In moments like these, reaching for an alcoholic drink may seem like an alluring escape route, a quick fix to dial down the clamor of anxious feelings. But what if there was another way — a healthier, more sustainable method to manage anxiety? Welcome to the realm of mindfulness, an age-old practice now riding the crest of popularity in modern psychology due to its remarkable benefits, particularly in relieving anxiety.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness, at its core, revolves around the concept of being fully present, completely engaged with our current location, our ongoing actions, and maintaining a non-reactive, non-overwhelming perspective towards our surroundings. It's about embracing the here and now — a stance that can provide us with a significant edge, especially when we are trying to escape the clutches of alcohol. Mindfulness helps us navigate the choppy waters of our internal world with grace, providing the much-needed clarity and awareness to foster healthier decisions.

Mindfulness and Anxiety: What Does the Science Say?

It's worth noting that the efficacy of mindfulness in reducing anxiety isn't anecdotal; it’s well-documented in scientific literature. Several studies have concluded that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for alleviating anxiety and mood symptoms within clinical populations. Through mindfulness, we learn to approach our anxious emotions with curiosity and openness, reducing the distress typically associated with these feelings.

Incorporating mindfulness techniques in our daily routine can be a game-changer, even more when we're on a mission to change our relationship with alcohol. Here are five mindfulness exercises that can help us handle anxiety.

1. Body Scan Meditation

The body scan meditation, as the name suggests, requires us to concentrate our attention sequentially on different parts of our body, starting from our toes and gradually progressing up to the very top of our heads. During this practice, we intentionally tune into the various sensations we experience across our bodies without succumbing to the urge of forming judgments. This mindfulness technique helps dismantle the intensity of anxiety symptoms, creating an overall sense of relaxation.

2. RAIN Technique

The RAIN mindfulness technique is an acronym representing four essential steps in the process: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. It encourages us to recognize our ongoing experiences, permit these experiences to exist, kindly investigate these phenomena, and embrace self-compassion during these experiences. Implementing this technique allows us to respond to our anxiety with an elevated level of understanding and nonjudgment.

3. Leaves on a Stream Exercise

This mindfulness exercise employs visualization as a tool, asking us to imagine each thought as a leaf drifting along the current of a stream. Instead of getting ensnared by these thoughts or the feelings they elicit, we simply observe them and let them float away, mirroring and encouraging the transient nature of thoughts and feelings.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing

As a yogic breathing technique, alternate nostril breathing involves inhaling through one nostril while keeping the other one closed, followed by exhaling and switching nostrils. Regular practice of this technique can pacify the mind, alleviate symptoms of anxiety, and instill a sense of balance and tranquility.

5. Mindful Walking

Regardless of whether it's a stroll in the park or a casual walk around the block, mindful walking entails being fully immersed in the act of walking. It's about grounding our attention in the sensation of the earth beneath our feet, keenly observing the environment around us, and acknowledging our thoughts and feelings without forming judgments. This mindfulness exercise promotes a sense of calm and allows us to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

Mindfulness Exercises: The Final Verdict

These mindfulness exercises represent a shift in our approach towards life, especially during the times we grapple with anxiety or strive to reduce our alcohol consumption. However, it's essential to remember that mindfulness is not a magic wand that immediately dissipates anxiety or curbs the desire for alcohol. Instead, it's a tool, a powerful mechanism that encourages us to confront our emotions instead of seeking refuge in avoidance.

Through mindfulness, we create a compassionate space for our anxious feelings or our cravings for a drink. This space, brimming with conscious awareness and devoid of self-criticism, is the fertile ground where healing occurs, where we nurture resilience and pave the way for a more balanced, fulfilling life.

Channel Your Inner Zen With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

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Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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