You’re panicking, you’re stressed, your mind is racing and not sure how you could possibly get everything done. I totally know the feeling. While some anxiety and stress can be good for us, managing the level of these emotions that you feel is important to both your mental and physical health. I know I’ve definitely been there.
My Personal Experience:
Fun fact about me: there was an entire month my left face muscle twitching because I was so stressed out. I was actually in complete and utter denial that it was due to stress but once my schedule cleared up quite a bit, my face completely stopped twitching. Ok so maybe not so fun fact. But in all seriousness, it made me realize there was a pretty big component of my health regimen missing. While eating clean, working out and getting a good night’s sleep has always been a priority for me, taking time to relax has always been a struggle for me. Luckily creating good habits is my forte and slowly through trial and error I have been able to incorporate more meditation and relaxation components into my daily routine. Overall, I’ve noticed I’m able to react with more thought and feelings of anxiety has significantly decreased with my daily practice of meditation.
Mindfulness, as “described practice of learning to focus attention on moment-bymoment experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance”, has been shown to decrease general psychological distress and effective method for treating depression and anxiety symptoms (study source). This 2011 Harvard Study showed significant increases in grey matter in the brain, the part of the brain associated with memory & emotion. People with depression and stress-related disorders tend to have smaller amounts of grey matter. Therefore, more grey matter equals a healthier more resilient brain.
Below are some ways you can relieve stress now and maybe some meditation practice you can incorporate into your daily schedule:
1. Meditate for 10 minutes using Headspace
This app is what really allowed me to incorporate meditation into my daily routine. Andy Puddicombe, the voice and face of headspace, has a calming and relaxing voice and really guides you through the steps and struggles of meditation. As someone who has just recently gotten on the meditation bandwagon, I’m not really at the space where I can enjoy un-guided meditation as much. Andy really guides you through breath work and any uncomfortable feelings that may come up if you’re not used to sitting still cough cough me. Plus, it’s only 10 minutes!
2. Focus on deep, slow breaths for a few minutes
Only got a few minutes? Sync your breathing with this viral gif. Looking at it alone makes me feel relaxed. Taking a moment to shift your body out of fight-or-flight response can help lesson the tole of stress on your body. So if you feel your heart rate increase, start shaking or like stress is surging through your body for no good reason, take a moment to reset your mind and physical chemistry.
3. Take a yoga class
The best present you can give yourself is to BE PRESENT in the moment. Yoga is another great way to tap into the mind, body connection. By focusing on breath to movement, you can concentrate on cultivating a mindfulness mentality. Yoga is what helped open me up to meditation to begin with. The 2 minute savasana meditation at the end of class was a nice transition into a longer meditation practice. As a weekly hot yoga attendee, I know I always leave the studio with a more positive attitude than I came in with.
4. Attend a guided meditation class
Depending on what city you live in, this may be easier said than done. I will say some of the best meditative states I’ve felt were led in person by others. I’m blessed to have a co-worker who’s certified in Kundalina Meditation and I definitely leave those short sessions of meditations feeling “high” and in a state of bliss. MeditationFinder.com is a great resource for looking up meditation studios in your city.
5. Sip on some chamomile tea
Chamomile alone has shown to have some positive affects on reliving anxiety. This study tested a chamomile extract pill vs. a placebo pill on 61 test patients over 8 weeks and the chamomile extract showed some promising benefits on relieving anxiety symptoms. Also taking it a step further, tea meditation is a common practice. Make your tea, take gratitude for tea and the moment and then practice sipping tea mindfully and slowly being present in this very moment. This blog breaks down tea meditation a little more if you you’re looking for a more full / guided practice.
Hopefully one of these connect with you. If you have any other types of meditations that connected with you in particular, feel free to leave it in the comments.