A couple of months ago, my anxiety started getting really outrageous again. I was obsessing over every single decision I made. I couldn't focus for more than 10 minutes without feeling exhausted.
Anxiety made me see the world negatively. And then depression hit me like a ton of bricks.
As my job performance declined and my relationships deteriorated, I thought everything in my life was wrong.
I almost walked away from the business I love and helped to build.
It felt like a dark cloud was following me everywhere.
You see, it had been a few months since I'd accidentally stopped my anxiety and depression medications… and... It took me a while to realize I needed them. 😬
Over time, I felt like I was either having a mental breakdown or I might do something to hurt myself. I was afraid to be alone.
Thanks to a friend of mine, who helped connect me with the resources I needed... I'm back on medication now.
But, it can take awhile to get the doses correct. In the meantime, I need to manage my anxiety.
There's no doubt we've all felt some form of anxiety, whether it's butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, or an upset stomach. Everyday anxiety, however, isn't the same as clinical anxiety.
Those who have experienced anxiety know how intense and lonely it can feel. An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders. It can feel a little lonely dealing with anxiety, but you're not the only one—globally, 1 in 14 people are affected. So what can you do when anxiety creeps in? Meditate.
Meditation is a practice that focuses your attention and awareness on the present moment. It can help you calm your mind when you're thinking about stressful stuff.
There are several types of meditation that can help with anxiety. The best one for you depends on your symptoms.
For example, mindfulness meditation can help you control your thoughts, relaxation exercises can help you relieve your tense muscles, and loving-kindness meditations can help you ease unpleasant emotions.
How meditation reduces anxiety
Practicing meditation regularly changes the body physiologically by:
Shrinking the amygdala, which processes fear, anxiety, and stress. As a result, you may experience less stress and anxiety.
Increasing the thickness of the hippocampus, the learning and memory area of the brain.
Disabling the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain associated with anxious thoughts and mind-wandering.
Reducing physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, like elevated heart rate.
The benefits of regular meditation also include:
Relieving anxiety symptoms immediately
Keeping you focused on the present
Enhancing your ability to handle stress in the future
Improving your patience and tolerance
3 Meditation Exercises to Calm Anxiety
For best results, practice these exercises daily, preferably when you're not feeling stressed. Add them to your morning routine, then use them during the day whenever you feel anxious.
When anxious thoughts start crowding your mind, try grounding exercises. Here are some examples:
Describe five things you can see.
Make a list of five objects that you can touch.
Name five sounds you can hear.
List five smells you can smell.
Scan Your Body
Relax your mind and body with this meditation exercise. This can help you relax, which can be especially helpful if you're trying to sleep. You can do it like this:
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, filling your belly with air.
Bring your awareness to your feet and try to relax them.
Slowly work your way up your body, one body part at a time.
As soon as you notice any pain or discomfort, focus your attention on it and breathe through the discomfort.
Look, Point, and Name
Here's an exercise that can help you stop a spiral of thoughts if you feel like you're about to have a panic attack:
Scan your surroundings.
Select an object and point at it.
Say its name out loud.
Repeat five times, or until you feel calmer and more in control.
What to take away from it
You can reduce your anxiety symptoms by practicing meditation, which can help you stop worrying, reduce stress levels, regulate your emotions, and lower your heart rate.
Feeling like a complete beginner? Start with simple mindfulness and relaxation meditation exercises to feel less anxious and more present.
Try the practices in this article, and let us know what you think!
Are you feeling anxious or stressed?
Take 10 deep breaths and "mindfully" walk the city with #ElevatedOats!