Mindfulness and Meditation to Help Ease Anxiety and Improve Sleep
The practice of mindfulness meditation can be used as an effective method to manage your feelings of stress and anxiety. Not only this, mindfulness for anxiety can also be used as a relaxation technique to quell the symptoms of panic disorder.
Mindfulness and meditation for stress and anxiety can help you to slow down the intrusive and racing thoughts you experience during an anxiety attack, as well as decrease thoughts and emotions, and calm both your mind and body.
Research across a range of age groups, genders, and geographical placements suggests how powerful effective meditation for anxiety can be. A study in 2015 witnessed a significant drop in feelings of anxiety and stress among nursing students who practised daily meditation for stress and anxiety.
A further U.S based study also concluded similar findings in younger people diagnosed with anxiety disorders. The common theme among these studies is that there are benefits of meditation for anxiety that can help people who have anxiety, and often worry about the past for the future, to focus on the present moment.
How to Meditate for Anxiety
During the beginning stages of your meditative journey, you may underestimate the difficulty of sitting in silence. You may be tempted to check your phone, get up and walk about, or simply give up, but believe it or not, part of the practice of mindfulness is becoming aware of how the act of just sitting in silence can put your thoughts into hyper-mode.
The key behind mindfulness meditation for anxiety is to not judge the mind but to simply observe it instead. To begin your journey of meditation for anxiety, we recommend easing in with meditation sessions of only a few minutes in order to stay engaged. However, you can gradually increase the time you spend meditating once you develop a more regular pattern, and more familiar recognition, with the meditation practice.
It is also greatly important to begin your meditative journey in an environment where you won’t be distracted by your surroundings. This means being away from family, friends, housemates, pets, phones, televisions, and anything else that may work to disrupt you from starting meditation for anxiety. It is also a good idea to remove shoes, heavy jewellery, and restrictive clothing in order to remain as free as possible.
The goal of the above is to meditate in a space that is as peaceful and as comfortable as possible so that you can have focussed attention on mindfulness meditation for anxiety without disruption or discomfort. Once you’ve established a time and place, you can begin building your foundation for mindfulness meditation for anxiety exercises with the following four steps.
Find a Comfortable Position
Many people find sitting on the floor with their legs crossed and back straight a comfortable position to practice meditation for anxiety. Other positions can include sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched, sitting upright in a chair, or even lying on your back.
The important thing to garner here is that you should find a position that feels comfortable enough to not become distracted by your body, but also not so at ease that you become unaware of your body or have the potential to fall asleep. While it is good to reduce your movement during meditation, if you need to change your position due to discomfort or cramps then feel free to.
Bring Your Awareness to the Present
Once you’re sitting comfortably in a peaceful area, begin focusing your attention inward by closing your eyes and breathing. Simply noticing your breathing pattern, without trying to change it, will help to bring your awareness to the present moment.
If you begin to notice your mind wandering, grounding meditation for anxiety by bringing your mind back by focusing again on your breath will help to remedy this. Once you have observed the natural rhythm of your breathing, allow it to grow into deeper breaths to support your relaxed state.
Acknowledge Your Thoughts
The initial stages when you begin to practice mindfulness meditation for anxiety for the first time can actually increase feelings of anxiety or self-judgement at that time. Thoughts asking whether you’re doing it right, or asking yourself what you should even be doing, can fill your mind. However, rather than attempting to suppress this inner dialogue, and risking a panic attack, it is important to recognise it and wait for it to pass.
This practice will help you to learn how you can sit with uncomfortable thoughts without the need to act or respond. Over time, this can help you to feel less anxious when you experience intrusive thoughts in daily life, as you will know how to deal with them, or not deal with them in this case, which can lead to you experiencing more inner peace.
Finish Your Meditation
When you feel that your meditation sessions have come to a natural end, or you feel you’ve reached your desired time, open your eyes. Beginning some gentle stretches will help you to gradually come out of your meditation, and this will be a good opportunity to take time to reflect on your practice.
While it can be difficult to keep track of time during meditation, setting an alarm or timer that has a gentle sound can help to alleviate worries that you’ll be going over your designated time. This will also help to divert your attention from the clock, and back on to your meditation for anxiety.
How to Improve Practising Meditation for Anxiety
Once you feel like you’ve built a good foundation, you may begin to notice previous signs and symptoms of anxiety, like ruminating on past events or insomnia, are greatly reduced. However, just like trying to develop a new habit, it can take some practice. In order to get better at meditation for anxiety, we recommend experimenting with your practice in order to find the best method for you.
Mindfulness meditation for anxiety can be done at any time of day. While there is no definite answer to how often to meditate for anxiety, you may find that meditating when you wake up can help you to reduce anxiety in the morning, and meditating in the evening can help you to beat the symptoms of sleep anxiety. Trying different times of day can help you to determine what suits you best.
While starting to practice mindfulness meditation for anxiety can be a challenge at first, finding the time and space in a busy schedule is one such roadblock, maintaining consistency with even just a few minutes a day can help you to notice a decrease in your anxiety and panic symptoms.