In my practice, anxiety is a common complaint among patients. This is very understandable - life can be stressful! Stress and anxiety can be caused by a number of things: an overwhelming schedule, stressful job, difficult family circumstances, and so much more. Believe it or not, anxiety can also be caused by a number of physical factors, such as immune challenges, heavy metal and chemical toxicity, and food sensitivities, all of which can be handled with a personally designed nutrition program and lifestyle changes. I have found that, regardless of the cause, incorporating meditation and relaxation techniques into your day can be extremely helpful with reducing anxiety.
Other than simply reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, meditation has endless benefits. A daily practice, even if for only five minutes a day, can lead to reduced stress, increased happiness, improved concentration, better sleep, lower blood pressure and strengthened memory.
Here are some simple things you can do anytime, anywhere to help clear your mind and feel your best mentally.
Breathing - Sit in a comfortable position and set an alarm. You can start for as little as 2 minutes and work your way up to as much as 20 or 30 minutes. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Let your breathing return to normal, but pay attention to your breath. If it helps you concentrate, you can count to four while inhaling, hold your breath for four seconds, and then count to four while exhaling. Repeat until the alarm goes off.
Mantra - Other than focusing on your breath, you can choose a mantra that resonates with you. Repeat the mantra for the duration of the meditation. Some mantras you can use are:
Sanskrit terms, such as Om or So-Hum, both great for a morning meditation
Everything I need is within me
I love myself
All situations are temporary
I have everything I need
I choose to be happy
Body Scan - You can do this while still laying in bed when you wake up in the morning. Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. When you are ready, bring awareness to your toes, and at your own pace, mentally travel up your body until your reach the top of your head. If you want to do this before going to sleep at night, start at your head and work your way down to your toes.
Guided Meditations - Sometimes it can be difficult to get started with meditation on your own. You may feel frustrated if you can’t concentrate (this is completely normal!). You may like the help of a guided meditation. There are a multitude of apps with guided meditations. Some good ones that we recommend are Calm, 10% Happier, Headspace and Meditation Studio.
Gratitude Journal - Keeping a journal of things you are grateful for has recently been proven to significantly reduce stress. This can be done in 5 minutes. Simply sit down once a day and write a list of things that you feel grateful for or things that made you happy that day. You can also jot down things that you are looking forward to.
Exercise - Regular exercise can significantly improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. If you do not like to exercise, try to find something that works for you. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. You can go for a walk, do yoga, take a Zumba class, you name it!
Personally, incorporating meditation into my daily life has been life changing. I am less anxious and reactive and far more confident and productive. Please let me know if you try any of these techniques in the comments!