This is one of my favorite exercises to ease anxiety and start gaining control over emotions. Imagine a conveyor belt, and that your thoughts are coming down the belt. Name the thoughts and feelings to yourself as they come down the belt — “I am having a feeling of sadness. I am now having a feeling of fear that I will be alone. It’s a very intense feeling. Now I’m having a feeling of curiosity about what my brother said last night.” Recognize each thought as it comes down the belt, and then let it pass by and go on the next thought. Allow the thoughts and feelings to flow through you as you observe them.
You’ll do this for a few minutes at a time a couple of times a day to start with. Every day you’ll increase the amount of time you spend. For example, the first day try 3 minutes, the next day 5. I know this may sound strange, but it’s actually a lot more difficult than people realize. What will probably happen is as you’re trying to do the exercise, you will get distracted from it several times. When this happens, just gently turn your mind back to the exercise. It’s important to note that one of the things you’re trying to master here is being separate from your thoughts. You are observing your thoughts as they happen without judging them. So if the the thought “Why did he treat me that way?” comes into your mind, you observe it, make a note that it is painful and then go on to the next thought. This exercise is a powerful tool to start learning to control your attention rather than your attention controlling you.
-Alexa Thompson, LPC