Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Reduction – All You Need to Know
One way or another, we all know how anxiety feels. In the modern world, anxiety and stress are part and parcel of everyday life. Meditation for anxiety can help you reduce worries and take you to a calmer mindset. You must have heard terms like mindfulness meditation and how it helps with anxiety. Today, we are discussing the same. So stay tuned for some of the best anxiety meditation techniques.
However, that is relatively harmless. When that fear or worry does not go away and escalates into everlasting worries, a feeling of impending doom, and feels suffocating then it is dangerous. It is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and that can even bring panic attacks. It can consume your time and energy and can be distressing at times.
Stress is the main trigger that induces anxiety and can bring physiological reactions such as panic attacks. GAD is persistent and stays with an individual for a long period.
It can become a disorder where people can even lose their rationality and logical reasoning and stay in a state of excessive worry. They will even worry without any reason and will except the worst in every situation.
Apart from this, there are also some other types of anxiety disorders that you should know about.
Generalised Anxiety: A constant worrying about everyday life, restlessness, and the lack of concentration. It can occur at any age and interferes with your everyday life and activities.
Social Anxiety: Another form of irrational anxiety, this will create self-consciousness and embarrassment that comes with fear of judgement, humiliation, or the concern of offending someone.
Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is when there are recurring experiences of panic attacks. A panic attack is when there are overwhelming emotions of fear and anxiety, or a feeling of imminent danger.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: More commonly known as OCD, it is unreasonable thoughts and fears that will lead you to a compulsive behavior. They are unwanted thoughts that you obsess over, and act on them.
One of the long-term benefits of meditation is that it can help you with anxiety management. Here is how.
Anxiety Meditation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness, as the name suggests, is a state of being fully aware of your mind. What is happening around you, what you are doing, the thoughts passing in your mind, everything.
Mindfulness is your ability to be present at the moment without worrying or getting overwhelmed with your thoughts. Meditation is one of the best ways to achieve mindfulness, and in turn, it helps with managing your stress and anxiety in the longer run.
With mindfulness comes self-awareness. When you are self-aware, you are exploring yourself for the resources you didn’t know you had. It is important to understand that more than changing the situation, it helps you with how you respond to that anxiety triggering situation.
Mindfulness is believed to improve your mental health, getting rid of unwarranted stress and anxiety. The awareness and acknowledgment of your thoughts help you in managing the anxiety, keeping things simple.
We will get into the details of how it creates a better response system to your anxiety-triggers, but for now, let’s dive right into some meditation techniques that will help you with anxiety.
Simple Guided Meditations for Anxiety
These are some of the simple anxiety meditation techniques you can try.
Meditation for Anxiety: Technique – 1
Rather than going into the technicalities, here we will understand how to deal with anxiety.
Step 1: It begins with allowing your emotion to exist, and accept them without taking any actions. This will help you experience your feelings and just let them be, without dwelling on them excessively.
This is a process of registering the emotions you feel and not responding to them. You are not fighting or surrendering to them, just trying to accept their existence.
Step 2: It is important to not deny your negative thoughts. As mentioned in the step above, allowing it to exist will help. Bottling up your emotions or negative thoughts is not the way to go and it can cause harm to your peace of mind more than you think.
Rather than fearing it, a chain of positive thinking can help a lot. Instead of thinking “I am not strong enough to handle this”, it should be “Fear is here” or “This is the reason I fear.” The goal here is to not be scared or surrender, but simply open up to accept your emotions.
Step 3: Acceptance is the key when it comes to meditation for anxiety. It will always help to not be harsh on yourself and accepting of your feelings. This requires work and practice, and that is when meditation can help.
By being self-aware, you can learn to realize some unpleasant movements and learn how to go through them. In simpler words, meditation is the understanding that it is okay to go through unpleasant experiences
Meditation for Anxiety: Technique -2
This is similar to 30-minute meditation, however, it is done with an intent to reduce stress and anxiety.
Step 1:This is the time to be grateful for your being. Be present at the moment and you can take your time to do that.
Step 2: Realize what you are feeling in your mind and connect with your body. Is there any tightness in your muscle? Are you feeling any sensations? How is your mood? Acknowledge everything, and let it exist.
Step 3: Now, slowly shift your attention to your breathing. Inhale, and exhale. Feel the air going in and out of your body. Most importantly, be aware of all of these.
Step 4: You can shift your focus from breathing to the body scan, whenever you are ready. A body Scan is nothing but feeling any sensations that are arising in your body. Again, thoughts and emotions will also be there. Just acknowledge them and let them be.
Step 5: If you feel any tension in your muscles or back, allow it to soften. Do not let discomfort distract you. You can imagine breathing with your body, like a ripple of energy passing from your feet to the top of your crown. Heed attention to them and notice the patterns.
Step 6: If anxious thoughts arise, be kind to yourself. The mind may experience some worries and fears even when meditating. Especially when you are meditating for anxiety, these thoughts are bound to come to you. These may even be an underlying fear that you are unaware of. Once again, be kind to your thoughts and yourself. Acknowledge what is being felt. The goal is not to act on those fears and anxiety, it is to know more about them and understand what we feel about them.
Step 7: Step by step, understand your fear. There is no need to push yourself if you are uncomfortable by any means. This is just a process of slowly getting into our anxiety and understanding the underlying causes of it. This is our slow journey to the core of all the anxiety and stress we feel, an exploration to know more. When the emotions arise, acknowledge them and move on. Knowing is our goal.
Step 8: Once you have a hold of your feelings and have acknowledged them, gently withdraw from that place and it is time to come back to your breathing again. Welcome back to the present! Breathe in and out. Just be aware.
Step 9: Watch your thoughts. As your breath comes and goes, watch your thoughts like they are playing like a movie in your mind. Observe your thoughts and how they change, how your mind deals with them. The more we become aware of our thoughts, the more we set them free. As you free your thoughts, it will lead to your mental freedom.
Step 10: As we close in, it is time to come back to your breathing. Use this time to extend your wishes to the universe, to all who are dealing with anxiety. Just as you are working on anxiety, wish the same to all. Take a moment to thank yourself and be grateful that you are working towards your anxiety. Despite challenging them or bottling them up, we are accepting and acknowledging them, setting our minds free!
Meditation for Anxiety: Technique – 3
If you are looking forward to the best-guided meditation for anxiety that is time-driven and not step-driven, we have got you covered. Here is a guided 20-minute meditation for anxiety you can follow.
Minutes 0 to 2: This meditation is about kindness and compassion and it is important to know why you are meditating. We will be working with anxious emotions here and trying to get to the core of it.
For the starters, sit or lie down. Choose your position. Everything is fine as long as you are comfortable. Take a moment to settle before ‘checking-in’ into your zone. We are about to enter mindfulness for anxiety. Remember, this meditation is not about fixing, analysing, or solving anything. It is about just letting our emotions be.
Minutes 2-8: Now it is time to gently shift your attention to breathing. Feel the air going in and out. Bring or anchor your awareness to where you think the breathing is prominent. It can be your nose, stomach, chest, anywhere. Let the awareness rest there.
Remember, there is nothing else to do, just keep breathing normal and natural. If your mind wanders off, acknowledge the places it is going to, and then come back. The goal is to be in the present. One inhalation and one exhalation at a time.
Minutes 8-12: This is the time for meditative inquiry. For many, this can be a hard experience and it is important to not stress your brain intensely here. We will be working with anxious emotions.
Try to figure out what causes the anxiety. If there is a specific reason, or a recent experience that made you feel anxious, try to recall it. Focus on the details of that experience and ask yourself how it felt.
Whatever thoughts, emotions, sensations that are coming to you, feel them. Let them be. Whether it creates sadness, anger, confusion, stress, or anxiety, just go through them. Give them space in your mind and heart to exist.
It is not about analyzing and figuring them out. On the flip side, if you are not feeling something that intense or anything at all, that is fine, too. It does not mean you are doing it wrong.
At times, it can be intense or even amplify the anxiety. However, it will subside if you keep an open mind towards its existence. Let them run their course and go with the flow.
Minutes 12-16: Come in terms with your emotions. These memories, feelings, experiences, and their definitions basically define who we are. Notice the patterns in them. All the self-awareness and understanding will set you free. Whenever anxious, use your breathing to stabilise. Once again, acknowledge and let it be. Being in the present is the key.
Minutes 16-18: Okay, it is time to come back to breathing. Feel the air going in and out as you shift your attention back to inhaling and exhaling. Settle your mind and body using breathing as an anchor.
Minutes 18-20: It is time to reflect on self-compassion. Pat yourself on the back for the courage you showed, going into this meditation. Feel the learning, wisdom, and compassion you gained from it in your heart. Open your eyes, come back to your environment, be at peace!
So, these are three techniques (of many) that you can use to meditate, which will help you with your anxiety and stress. But before you set your timers, hang on! How will all these guided meditations help you? We are about to take a deeper look into the matters to understand how it works
How It Works: Meditation and Anxiety
There are three different stages to how mindfulness meditation for anxiety helps you manage it better. If you follow a meditation for anxiety reduction, this is how it is going to help you in the longer run.
Acknowledging your feelings can help you a lot in understanding why you are anxious in the first place. If they are some irritating factors or painful memories, acknowledging them helps you in getting to the root cause to eliminate them.
Getting to know what is causing you stress and anxiety is not always that easy. Meditation for anxiety can help you find underlying causes with more self-exploration and awareness about yourself. Meditation creates an environment for you to get insights into what concerns you the most.
Peace of Mind
Addressing those concerns and causes will help you create a sense of freedom and space around you where you can naturally go and understand yourself better. This will naturally bring peace of mind in the longer run.
Simple, isn’t it? Now that you have made up your mind to go on with the process, here are some of the things to consider before you start your meditation for anxiety.
Things to Consider
There are some things to consider here before you start meditation for anxiety. At times, you may find it hard to meditate, especially if you are anxious or stressed. Being mindful does not come easy at times like these.
You may even feel there is too much to do, and sitting around and meditating will not help. It is time to stop negative thoughts from entering your mind as they will not help you when you are trying to relax. There are some ways to overcome these obstacles, however.
Let’s find out.
Have the Right Expectations :
Meditation is not going to be easy and it will be even tougher when you are fighting anxiety. It is important to have the right amount of expectations from your sessions. Try to focus on the process and not the outcomes.
You are not likely to get positive results right from the first time. It takes practice and discipline to get into meditation. However, the silver lining among those clouds is that it gets easier with time.
Keeping a Schedule will Help
Even if you are super busy, or think that you do not have time, take some time for meditation. Include meditation in your schedule as a ‘must-do’ activity, like you would for an appointment. You should always try to make it a habit.
If you find it hard to find a quiet place, you can push it for later on a busy day. Coming back to meditate on the second day is all it takes. It is about intentionally trying to make meditation a habit.
Hope this will help you fend off your everyday anxiety & stress and achieve that ever eluding peace of mind. It is important to know that meditation alone is not a replacement to any therapy or treatments that are used to cure or treat medical conditions like anxiety disorder. Meditation is a support system and not a quick fix cure to anything. It is about long-term benefits that will come with meditation for anxiety and stress reduction.
If you are medically diagnosed with anxiety disorder, it is always advisable to speak to a professional or a doctor. With right consultation and discussion with your doctor, you can figure out the best way to include meditation in your overall treatment program. It is a tool that can help you with your overall treatment plan under the guidance of a healthcare professional.