Do you ever find that your mind seems to be working against you by constantly dwelling on points of stress or creating anxiety around everyday situations? Perhaps you have even started staying up at night, worrying about the conflicts of the day and the challenges tomorrow may hold. During the busy holiday season, it can be even more difficult to quiet your mind and put these negative thoughts aside, but with a little practice, you can learn to maintain greater control over your thoughts and train your mind with more positive, focused thinking through the art of meditation.
The idea of meditating often conjures images of sitting on a meditation stool and burning incense, but if this isn’t your idea of relaxation – don’t worry – there are many ways to harness the power of meditation in your own comfortable space. With regular practice, you can learn to better manage stress and quiet your mind, skills that can have incredible benefits to your health in the long-run.
How is meditating helpful?
It doesn’t take long to see the benefits of meditation since there are many immediate effects that occur when you’ve generated a relaxation response from your practice. When meditating you may feel your heart rate slow down, your stress will seem to melt away as cortisol levels drop, you’ll have a greater sense of overall wellbeing, and you may temporarily relieve aches and pains that are caused by heavy stress. Even better, over time this stress-management technique can address a wide range of health concerns, including heart disease, circulatory problems, and memory problems.
How do you meditate?
If you are new to meditation, it can be helpful to try a few different practices before settling on the right one. At first, you might only meditate for a couple minutes, since it can take some time to adjust to the way you think and focus during meditation. Below you can find some tips on some common varieties of meditation that may be worth exploring to combat holiday anxiety.
• Mindfulness Meditation – Through mindfulness meditation, you will learn to experience thoughts in the moment, simply observing thoughts as they pass through your head, taking notes of patterns in your thoughts and emotions. This exercise is particularly beneficial for those who experience anxiety or depression, always holding onto thoughts of what may happen in the future or dwelling on the past, rather than living in the here and now.
• Mantra Meditation – A mantra is a single word or phrase that should be the point of focus during your mantra meditation. This may be a word of inspiration or a positive thought, and it provides a point to fixate on as you go deeper into a state of relaxation.
• Walking Meditation – You don’t have to sit completely still when you meditate. In fact, if you tend to get fidgety or anxious while sitting down, you can try moving meditation, such as walking. With walking meditation, you don’t simply go for a walk. You should find a peaceful, quiet place where you can pace leisurely and focus on your movement as you connect with the environment around you.
• Yoga – When you practice yoga, you should bring your full attention and awareness to your body and breath. With this level of focus and concentration, even in the most basic yoga poses, you can begin to allow distracting thoughts to fall away as you draw your focus inward.
Who should practice meditation?
Because there are so many different ways to meditate and so many benefits that the practice can offer, it’s an accessible activity for anyone to try out! If you find that your own relaxation practices aren’t cutting it with holiday stress, reach out for some medical or behavioral health help from the medical team at MeMD.