How to Use Meditation for Anxiety and Stress?

Avatar for Nathalie Kealy By in alternative therapy, anxiety, calm, meditation, mental health, relaxation on 11/10/2019
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meditation for anxiety

Meditation for Anxiety

Meditation for anxiety: Overwhelmed, worrying thoughts, nervous energy, unable to relax, restless sleep, poor appetite, scattered mind… Have you ever experienced any of these? 

Well, these are just some of the symptoms linked to anxiety. Now that’s not to say if you had these you had anxiety; but, they can be a pretty good indicator that you’re body and mind are experiencing some level of anxious, worrying thoughts or feelings. For some, feelings of anxiety can be fleeting, however, for others, these symptoms and this feeling is present on a daily basis and can be pretty debilitating. 

Luckily, there are some great tools and interventions out there for anxiety. An example of this and something some of you may have heard of is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is a structured psychological therapy that involves challenging and understanding how your thoughts, feelings, and behavior are all interlinked. It shows you how to live with mindfulness. However, as with many psychological therapies, talking to a therapist is a big component of this, which in itself can be pretty anxiety provoking. Hence mediation for anxiety is now being seen as a very effective alternative.

Why Meditation For Anxiety

  • Anxiety stems from overactivity in the brain; worrying thoughts about the past or future than can cause our nervous system to go into overdrive. Meditation for anxiety works by slowing and calming this system down. Hence it’s the perfect antidote. It does this by helping us sit with the feelings that are coming and retraining the brain to focus on the present moment. Consequently, this brings our mind away from the future and past, where the anxiety is triggered. 
  • It’s available for everyone. Unlike most therapeutic intervention there’s a lot of trial and error, what works for one person, doesn’t for the next. The great thing about meditation for anxiety is it works for everyone and is available to everyone. No expertise needed. No money required. Just simply a quiet place and you. Of course like everything it involves practice and so you may not feel the full benefits straight away. But by applying some basic principles you can start that process of quietening the mind from the very first time you practice. 
meditation for anxiety

Meditation for anxiety- Top 3 basic principles to get instant results: 

  1. Drop the idea that you need to clear your mind of all thoughts. This is an impossible task for someone new to meditation and can only serve to bring more anxiety into the mind when we are unable to do it. Instead, think about detaching from the thoughts, becoming the observer to the thoughts. Give yourself permission for the thoughts to come into the mind and out with no control. Just watching them and not getting caught in the meaning or context of them. 
  2. Use your breath as an anchor back to the moment. We all have our breath and it serves as a great tool to relax the body and mind. In this think of the breath as your focus. Every time you notice your mind wandering, as it will do when you notice just gently guide your attention back to your breath. Keep it simple. 
  3. Start small: Make it something achievable. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, setting yourself another thing to do can cause you to feel even more overwhelmed; so, start small. Just 2 minutes of sitting still and being present with your breathing is perfect. If this means you can make meditating for your anxiety a daily practice then even better. 

Simple two-minute meditation for anxiety script:

meditation for anxiety
  • Get yourself comfortable. Whether lying down or seated, it doesn’t really matter, just make sure you’re in a space where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Place your hands on your belly (your belly is where we tend to hold anxiety in the body) 
  • Bring your attention to this space and consciously tell yourself to soften the belly
  • Take five deep breaths all the way down into the belly and as you do notice your hands rise and fall with the rhythm of the breath.
  • Now either keeping the hands where they are or allowing them to rest in your lap. Allow the breath to come in and out naturally again, not changing it or controlling it. Just watching it. Watch where it goes in the body as you naturally inhale and easily exhale. Follow this for the next 10 breaths. Remember if your thoughts wander and you lose count, no matter. Just simply guide your attention back when you notice this has happened. 
  • Once you have taken your 10 natural breaths, end with one full big inhale in. Hold the breath in for a moment and then as you exhale consciously tell yourself to release out all tension on that exhale breath. If you want to sigh the air out of your mouth to really feel the full effect of releasing the tension. You can do this tension-releasing breath a few more times if you choose. Then when you’re ready you can slowly blink the eyes open and end the practice. 

The more often you practice this meditation for anxiety the better for the long term positive impact it can have on the symptoms of anxiety. However, if you’re experiencing a situation that has provoked momentary anxiety, such as going for an interview, try doing this exercise just before. It will help quickly calm your nervous system down and ensure your mind is ready.

If you have any experience of using meditation for anxiety, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Avatar for Nathalie Kealy

Nathalie is an Inner Calm & Self- Confidence Coach. She is a certified advanced yoga & meditation teacher, qualified mental wellbeing therapist and founder of Value Your Mind, a company which supports people in reducing stress and finding more confidence within their mind and life. She offers mental wellbeing retreats, individual online coaching, as well as lots of free resources via her website and podcast, Calm Mind Confident Life.

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