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  • Shiv Pathak

Savoring part 2: How practicing Savoring has helped to reduce my Anxiety

As discussed in our previous blog “Savoring part 1: What is Savoring”, savoring is “involves the self-regulation of positive feelings, most typically generating, maintaining, or enhancing positive affect by attending to positive experiences from the past, present, or future”.

I recently had a traumatic experience whilst traveling. I was sitting in a restaurant when a man I did not know at the table next to me died. I raised the alarm and comforted the wife all evening, including taking her to hospital whilst she was told that her husband had passed away. Since that experience I have been more anxious, on edge and I have been suffering with visual images of the experience. I wanted to find a way to reduce that anxiety and to prevent the experience turning into something longer lasting.

After some initial research, I found out about a technique that was developed as part of Positive Psychology, the scientific study of what makes life worth living, which is called “savoring”. So I decided to practice savoring regularly for 1 week in order to reduce my anxiety and process the experience more productively.

Whilst there is no clear recommendation on how often savoring techniques should be practiced, there appears to be some consensus for daily. Therefore, for this experiment I will practice at least one practice a day for 5 days. The tool chosen may vary each day to get an understanding if some appear to impact me more or less than others.

To measure the success of this experiment, I have used the measure of Subjective Well Being according to Dr Ed Diener’s methodology. This gives a measurement of wellbeing through answering questions. There are two sections to the questions; the first is to measure the “satisfaction with life” and looks at how similar your life is to the image of your “ideal life”. The second par tis about the emotions you are experiencing at that point in time.

AS I expected, my satisfaction with life score was fairly good but my emotions were not so great, this gave me the overall score of:

SWB: Satisfaction with life + emotions


SWB = 24 + 16 – 24

= 16

I then started practicing the savoring techniques, which I’ve outlined below:

Day 1:

Technique: Savoring Experience, World-focused Cognitive reflection: I spent some time in the sunshine and meditated on the feeling of warmth and sunshine on my skin for 10 minutes

How I felt before: tired, jumpy, and worried about work

How it felt during: it was nice laying in the sunshine although a little hot, I did notice that it was hard to focus internally as I was easily distracted by movement and conversations around me. I also noticed that whilst it was 38 degrees (Dubai) I felt like it was warming my skin and the outer part of my body but my core was still cold

How I felt after: pleased that I’d done it and slightly nourished by the sun, but not much calmer

Day 2:

Technique: Savoring Process: made my lunch and enjoyed the process of creating and eating

How I felt before: hungry, distracted, irritable, stressed

How it felt during: frustrated, hungry, wanted to rush, found it very hard to slow myself down and enjoy each moment

How I felt after: calmer, less irritable and satisfied

Day 3:

Technique: Savoring Strategy – Behavioral Display: Made a concerted effort to smile and use positive body language and facial expressions

How I felt before: tired, OK but not particularly happy

How it felt during: it felt a little silly during it as I felt like I was smiling too much

How I felt after: happier and took more enjoyment from the conversation

Day 4:

Technique: Savoring Beliefs – Anticipation: 15 minutes meditating on a future experience. I spent time actively imagining each part and how I would feel

How I felt before: that the trip was hectic with little enjoyment and I felt like I hadn’t achieved much during the trip. It felt like life was out of my control

How it felt during: a sense of excitement and anticipation and positivity rather than out of control

How I felt after: I still felt like the trip itself has been crazy busy and hectic but I felt more in control and excited

Day 5:

Technique: self-reflect on the specific experience but focusing only on the positives and learnings

How I felt before: dread, worry

How it felt during: It was hard to gently turn my mind away from the negative aspects but once I got thinking about some of the positives that could come from it, I found myself quite absorbed in the task. It gave me some revelations that had perhaps been clouded by the difficulty of the experience

How I felt after: more positive about the overall experience and I saw opportunity to gain from it

After doing this exercise for a week I wasn’t convinced that it had made that much of an impact. I tried the measurement again to see whether it had or not:

End measurement:


SWB = 25 + 37 – 16

= 46

I was quickly shocked to find that my overall score has significantly increased by 187.5%, largely due to a massive increase in positive emotions by 131%. The other aspects, SWLS and Negative emotions have also improved but by 4.16% and 33% respectively. This means that all aspects of my score have improved after the 5 days experiment.

This improvement felt like a surprise, especially the size of the improvement which has been much larger than anticipated. Due to the specificity of the issue, I anticipated that there may be a minor improvement in my emotions but not necessarily a significant improvement in satisfaction with life. A negligible impact on the later score is the case, however the size of the emotional improvement is unexpected. On reflection I do recognize that there have been fewer negative emotions during the week and a few more positive so the score does accurately reflect my emotions. The reason I was so surprised is that I had assumed it wouldn’t work and so was only focusing on the negative emotions. Interestingly we focus so much more on the negatives than the positives and so it can feel like we’ve not made as much progress as we have!

Now that I’ve seen and felt the impact of using savoring, I am making a concerted effort to include it in my everyday life so that this improvement lasts for a longer period of time. I would recommend that you try some of these techniques out and let us know in the comments if you saw any change. I’ll update you at some point on how it’s going for me longer term too!


Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175–196

Bryant, F.B., Smart, C.M. & King, S.P. Using the Past to Enhance the Present: Boosting Happiness Through Positive Reminiscence. J Happiness Stud 6, 227–260 (2005)

Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175–196

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