Meditation for Anxiety: How it Works & How to Start…Even if You Really Don’t Think You Can Do It
More than one in ten people living in the U.S. suffers from chronic anxiety, and even those who don’t struggle with daily anxiety will still face severely anxious moments in their lives. Humans, after all, are programmed to worry. Being on constant alert is what kept our ancestors safe from danger. In modern times, however, this vigilant tendency is more a hindrance than a help, especially for those with hyperactive minds.
While medication and therapy are common (and often essential) treatments for people coping with anxiety, meditation is an additional option that is less time-consuming and expensive than therapy and, unlike most medications, safe for long-term use. What’s more, there is mounting evidence to show that meditating reverses damage in the brain, caused by anxiety.
Constant worry triggers a decrease in the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain considered the seat of the memory, and growth in the amygdala, the part responsible for our fear response. Meditation not only assists in relaxation, but it has been shown to reverse such structural damage to the brain. And best of all, it works fast! Measurable physiological changes can be detected after as few as eight hours of meditation.
Saying is always easier than doing, though. Learning to meditate is a skill that takes a little bit of know-how. As an entry point, consider the following guide to beginning a mindfulness practice—a form of meditation shown to be especially effective against anxiety.
1. Set aside ten minutes per day to meditate. Yes, that’s it! Meditation doesn’t require a whole lot of time…
2. During this interval, begin by sitting quietly with your eyes closed.
3. Breathe normally and focus your attention on your breath.
4. Repeating “breath in, breath out” might help keep rushing thoughts at bay.
5. When a thought creeps in, simply label it as “a thought” and gently return your attention to your breath.
6. Remember that the goal of meditation is not to avoid thinking but to notice thoughts when they arise and softly push them aside.
However simple this may sound, it is not easy. Quieting a busy mind is no small task. If you find yourself struggling to stick with meditation because you don’t think you’re doing it right, you might consider a guided approach. Though an in-person guide is ideal, it is not the norm. Many folks use widely-available online sound files to focus their meditation practice. Often, these are created by trained healthcare professionals and can be found with a simple search. Plug “guided meditation for anxiety” into any search engine and get started on massaging anxiety out of your life!
Free Download: Tune in to Tune Out: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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