Why People Use Meditation To Reduce Anxiety

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Anxiety is a feeling that is difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Many people who experience anxiety feel it on a chronic, or daily basis, and find it difficult to find relief for the symptoms that can be so distracting while they go about their days. Fortunately, there are exercises that can be performed to reduce anxiety and help you feel relaxed, calm, and confident in your ability to carry out your day without feeling the weight of anxiety. One of the most popular and effective exercises to reduce anxiety is meditation.

Benefits of Meditation

One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety is to practice meditation. A great deal of research has been performed to assess the effectiveness of meditative practices on anxiety. Results of those studies have found that meditative practices:

  • Reduce nervousness and worries
  • Increase concentration
  • Slow down racing thoughts
  • Improve sleep
  • Facilitate a feeling of confidence and self-esteem

Each of these effects directly counteracts anxiety. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can help a great deal in reducing overall anxiety and stress. It can also help improve your quality of life by increasing confidence, independence, a sense of security, and inner peace. Furthermore, each of these benefits of reducing anxiety will help you cope with related issues, like:

  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anger management
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Postpartum complications

Meditation teaches positive coping strategies that facilitate a healthier way of perceiving and interpreting the world. Meditation calms the mind and helps you take time to understand an issue more dynamically than just trying to figure out the best way to react. Meditation teaches strong skills and lessons, like:

  • Patience
  • Acceptance
  • Oneness with the body, mind, and world
  • Letting go of control
  • Breathing to stay calm
  • Ways to find inner peace
  • The power of thoughts and positivity

Breathing: The Key Skill In Meditation

Meditation incorporates many different functions and systems of the body and mind, but the key component to meditation is breath work. Breath work is the central skill that must be learned to be able to successfully experience a meditative state. Breath work is important for meditating to reduce anxiety because it brings oxygen to the brain and muscles, which creates a calming effect. The copious amounts of oxygen will help the muscles relax and release tension, while the oxygen brought to the brain creates a euphoric and calming feeling. It also gives your conscious mind something to focus on, instead of the thoughts you are trying to quiet so you can concentrate on reducing your anxiety.

Types Of Meditative Practices

Learning how to meditate can be tricky at first because it does take discipline, dedication, and focus. It can at first be frustrating if you do not feel immediate effects, but it is important to stick with the practice. Like most activities and exercises, the more you practice the stronger your skills will grow.

Meditation has a reputation for being tedious , but it does not have to be this way. People often think of meditation as sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and chanting for hours on end. This is not necessarily the case. While you can practice stationary meditation, there are also practices that keep you moving while you calm your mind, and can be fun, challenging, and empowering.

Yoga and Tai Chi are prime examples of how meditation is more than just concentrating. With these practices you engage your body, your breathing, and your mind to create your own quiet, safe space. Each of these practices challenge you mentally, physically, and emotionally, to help you control your thoughts, regulate your mood, and strengthen your body. They help you learn how to focus and how to feel in control of your physical and mental state.

Meditation can be practiced as you go about your day. Many people find going on walks, hikes, or bike rides to be calming and peaceful because they provide a time and space to clear their headspace, calm their thoughts, and process their feelings, while engaging their body and energy productively. It can also be nice to be outside or in an environment that does not cause much stress, but offers means to feel calm.

There are also forms of guided meditation, which do not require physical activity. With guided meditation you are guided through the meditative process until you are able to perform it on your own. Two popular forms of guided meditation are transcendental meditation and guided imagery. Each of these forms of meditation help you feel calm because they guide you through a process that brings you inward into yourself, helping you find inner peace and security within your own headspace.

Examples Of Simple Meditation Exercises

 Buddha Breath

  1. Sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your back straight, chin parallel with the floor, and shoulders rolled
  2. Inhale for 10 seconds through your nose. Fill your chest with air, followed by your belly.
  3. Hold breath for 5 seconds.
  4. Exhale beginning at the bottom of your belly, working your way to the bottom to the top of your lungs. Complete the breath on count 10.

Repeat 5-7 times, or until feeling relaxed and calm.

10 Second Breath

  1. Inhale through the nose for 10 seconds. By count 10, your lungs should be filled with air.
  2. Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
  3. Exhale through the mouth for 10 seconds. By count 10, your lungs should be empty.

Repeat 5-7 times, or until feeling relaxed and calm.

4-7-8 Breaths

  1. Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds. The lungs should be full by count 4.
  2. Hold the breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds. The lungs should be empty by count 8.

Repeat 5-7 times, or until feeling relaxed and calm.

Belly Breaths

  1. Place your left hand on your chest, and your right hand on your belly.
  2. Inhale through the nose to fill the belly with air without making your chest rise.
  3. Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
  4. Exhale slowly through the mouth, engaging the abdominal muscles to pull the naval inward.

Repeat 5-7 times, switching hands with each cycle.