Today I’m sharing a post about how meditation has helped my anxiety.
Before I get into the meditation part of this post, I wanted to share that I’m not a mental health professional. If you’re dealing with anxiety talk to your doctor or mental healthcare provider. Meditation isn’t going to fix an anxiety disorder. It can be a tool to help though. Be sure to follow the advice and guidance of your healthcare team. They know your specific situation and how to help you best!
I haven’t shared this too much on the blog, but I struggle with anxiety sometimes. I’m not going to get into the details of what that looks like for me because it can look different for others, but I think everyone knows what it feels like to experience anxiety. It can manifest in everything from worrying to panic attacks. It can interfere with your everyday life and make things complicated and hard to do. Below I’m sharing ways that meditation has helped me to deal with my anxiety. I’m also working with my healthcare team and doing other things to help with the anxiety.
Meditation helps me to be present.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the past or future when it comes to anxiety. I’m not in the future worrying about all the ways that things can go wrong. I’m not stressing about things that I’ve done in the past that I think I’ve “screwed up”. Once those thoughts start it can be tough to get out of that mindset. Meditating helps me be more present and in the moment.
It definitely takes practice to be present when I’m experiencing anxiety. When I first started meditating it was really tough. And I wasn’t always successful when I tried to do it. But with lots of practice I’ve gotten better at it. I’m still not perfect, but I’ve come a long way.
Meditation helps me be present in my body.
My favorite meditations help me to bring awareness to my body. When I’m so worried about things that could potentially go wrong in the future, I tend to get caught up in my thoughts. I’m not very aware of what I’m doing or even my body when I’m really worrying. It’s hard to explain, but meditation helps me get out of my head and back into my body.
In yoga nidra (a type of yoga), there’s a part of the meditation called the “rotation of consciousness”. The teacher will ask the class to bring their awareness to to different body parts, one by one. It starts on the right side of the body with the right thumb, and goes through each finger, the hand, arm, shoulder, chest, waist, hip, leg, foot, and each toe. Then the teacher will go though the same sequence on the left side. While it may seem like such a simple thing (I know it did to me the first few times I practiced yoga nidra), I’ve found it to be very calming. It brings me out of my thoughts and back into my body.
Meditation brings awareness to my breath.
Out of all of the meditation apps that I’ve used, I’ve found that Headspace puts the most emphasis on breathing. I’m someone who has a tough time making my mind “empty” during meditation. I’m much more successful when I’m able to focus on something, even if it’s just my inhales and exhales. It’s enough to keep my mind focused on one simple thing instead of worrying about my to do list or what I’m going to make for dinner when I’m meditating.
In the beginner 10 day sequence that Headspace takes you through, Andy suggests that if you have a hard time focusing on “nothing”, to instead pay attention to your breath. He encourages you to count each inhale and exhale up to a count of 10, and then start over again with 1. It may seem kind of silly, but it really does work for me. It’s enough of a focus for me to not get distracted by other things, but it’s not overly hard or complicated that I get caught up in counting. It’s that sweet spot of being able to focus on something without it being overly distracting.
Interested in reading more about meditation? Check out these posts that I’ve shared previously on the blog:
- Using the Headspace app to meditate
- What 100 days of meditation have taught me
- My favorite apps for meditation
- Guided meditation for sleep
If you’re new to meditation I’d suggest trying it with the help of a teacher or app. I shared a post above about my favorite meditation apps. In short, I would suggest Headspace if you’re more science based like I am. If you’re more “woo woo” give Insight Timer a try. They’re my two favorite apps to meditate with.
Do you meditate? Do you find it helps with anxiety when you experience it?