Everyday life can be stressful on all of us without us even noticing. Even when we are not dealing with big or life-altering stressors, the mundane realities of work, traffic, and family stress can collect in our minds and bodies without us taking proper time to alleviate them.
People deal with stress in a variety of ways, both healthy and unhealthy, either through going to the gym or eating a favorite food to brighten their mood. While these may work for a temporary rush of endorphins, chances are that these practices may not be sustainable long term or routinely based on busy schedules. Meditation practices to alleviate anxiety, however, can be done just about anywhere, with little to no equipment, set up, or specialized location needed.
Here are 6 Meditation Techniques to help you alleviate your anxiety:
This is a simple, fast, and effective way to calm yourself down from a stressful event or situation. By taking long, deep, slow breaths - sometimes referred to as abdominal breathing - you will be able to disengage and distract yourself from external stressors, instead focusing on the effect of these breaths on your body.
There are several additional breathing exercises that can be added to this simple routine, such as breathing in through your nose, holding the breath for a moment, and exhaling through your mouth. Be sure to focus on the way your body reacts to these breaths, feel the stress slipping away with each exhale by letting your muscles relax breath by breath until you are at peace.
If you know that you experience respiratory health issues or other ailments such as asthma, seasonal allergies or otherwise, be mindful while performing these exercises as they may lead to discomfort or more serious health reactions.
Focusing on breathing is probably one of the easiest and most effective anxiety relief practices. Taking a moment here and there throughout your day to take a few deep breath to bring yourself back down from a stressful situation is the first step to a brighter day!
While body focus is an integral part of all breathing exercises, there are also plenty of ways to focus your attention on your physical form as opposed to external factors that might be affecting your emotional state. Performing a body scan following a set of breathing exercises is a tried and true technique for relieving stress in meditation communities. Start by laying perfectly still on the floor. Make yourself comfortable while laying on your back and once you are settled begin to ‘listen’ to your body. Notice any tingling, pain, tightness, heat, itching or numbness? Noticing these places in your body where the physical wear and tear of stress is affecting you can help you to try to alleviate it in the future.
Other benefits of body scan exercises are that they help you to be mindful of what it happening in real-time, in this exact moment, instead of focusing on what happened in the past, or stressing over what will happen in the future. While body scans are not concerned with fixing the problems you notice, they are meant to teach you to notice the pleasant and unpleasant sensations in your body to lead to an overall feeling of being more connected and mindful of your physical form.
Guided Imagery is a meditative technique in which you allow yourself to think up pleasant, soothing, and calming scenes, images, and memories in order to help calm yourself down from stressful situations. Guided Imagery is basically a fancy, technical term for going to your “happy place”. There are dozens of apps that help with guided imagery by walking you through the process and providing you with white noise as well as painting calming portraits for you to sink into as you meditate. These apps can also be helpful in avoiding intrusive thoughts they may come in and disrupt guided imagery exercises when doing them on your own through imaginative methods.
Chances are you can’t afford to take a vacation every time you feel a little stressed out. Guided Imagery Meditation is the perfect way to delve into your ‘happy place’ from home or work!
Mindfulness Meditation is sort of a combination of all of the above. It involves focusing on breathing techniques, bodily awareness, and letting go of stressful thoughts in favor of positive and happy ones. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of all of the things happen around us and within us and what is nice is that mindfulness is available to us, for free, at any time. It is easier to tap into your own mindfulness when you are practicing daily, so be sure to get into a routine and make mindfulness meditation part of your daily life to help keep anxiety at bay.
Grounding techniques are another facet of bodily awareness and can be incorporated into many of the exercises listed above. Grounding is the process of reminding oneself that they are a physical body and that the external stressors and anxieties are not physical threats.
While grounding is often prescribed for individuals in panic situations, it can also be helpful for daily meditative practice to alleviate anxiety. Some grounding exercises including running your hands through carpet or other textured surface to trigger physical sensation to get yourself out of your head.
Another grounding technique is sensory grounding. Calm yourself down by listing out 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
Repetitive prayer, or mantra meditation is a wildly popular technique for relieving anxiety. This technique incorporates the repetition of a phrase, prayer, or mantra to yourself over and over again while focusing on breathing exercises. This mantra is usually something significant to each person, and can be particularly effective for spiritual people. Speaking your peace into existence can seem silly at first, but there are lots of benefits to hearing yourself speak aloud as sound has the power to change and alter moods, similar to the effects of music on the psyche.
Practicing a variety of these techniques, or even several of them everyday is a great way to battle anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional concerns you might be carrying around with you. While meditation might be an adequate treatment for these conditions in some, if you notice that you are still struggling despite your exercises, remember that there is no shame in seeking help from a medical health professional and that the stigma against medically treating mental health issues is being dismantled by advocates each and every day!