Anxiety is one of the negative feelings that affects our lives in a huge way. It can lower our rate of productivity at work and even upset our relationships with others.
Being able to remain calm and reduce anxiety when it comes up is quite essential and meditation has proven over the years to be effective in that, among other strategies.
One of the many benefits of meditation is to lower stress, anxiety and depression levels and help you remain in balance and in good harmony. We will be looking at how meditation helps with the issue of anxiety and how to use it for calmness and composure when we are anxious.
Understanding The Anxiety Problem Better
Anxiety is a common issue and almost everyone has had it at some point in their lives, although in varying degrees. In fact studies show that one person in every fourteen people struggles with anxiety (1).
In the United States alone, it is estimated that around 40 million people are dealing with some form of anxiety (2).
This means that the constant worry about the past or future are not felt by you only. Many people across the world are having the same issue.
Anxiety can be characterized by feeling all tensed up, sweating on your forehead or palms, shortness of breath, trembling, heightened sensitivity, headaches and digestive system complications, to name a few. At times people even feel Iike they have butterflies or insects crawling in their stomach.
This occurrence is due to being concerned about things in the past that you feel affect you in a certain way or future events that are about to happen which you feel you have no control over.
It could be work, family, personal issues or even concerns about your health. This happens often.
However, there is a difference between the common anxiousness and chronic anxiety disorder.
Common anxiousness is when you are feeling uneasy and discomfort for a short while and then it disappears. But when worry occupies a good deal of your life and mind, and persists for months, then you could be suffering from the chronic anxiety disorder.
This is normally followed by the inability to think straight, which then affects your job and the way you relate with your family, friends and people you meet for the first time.
When you feel troubled for too long that you even find yourself overthinking on small things, and this goes on for more than 6 months, you should definitely consider visiting a healthcare specialist for check-up.
Meditation is among the many ways we can deal with anxiety and keep it under full control.
What Research Says About Meditation and Anxiety
Meditation has always showed great potential in reducing negative feeling and moods, and in regulating emotions. Many studies have been done on it and how effective it actually is in bringing down high levels of anxiety.
One of the meditation based techniques that has proven to be useful in curbing anxiety is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) that was developed by Jon Kabat Zinn.
MBSR is designed to help people struggling with stress, depression and anxiety as well as other mental conditions using meditation based mindfulness training.
Studies on the program have revealed that it is an effective way that can help thousands of people who are fighting with anxiety, stress and imbalanced moods (3).
This program mainly seeks to improve the level of awareness of the practitioner and direct their focus on the present moment which helps reduce the concerns about the past or future that stimulate these anxious feelings.
Another method that helps with anxiety is the Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that aims at handling depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety along with other mental illnesses.
Clinical trials on the MBCT program have shown that it is able to lower the depression rate by 50% for the depression cases that keep recurring. More recent studies have also confirmed that the program could be a really rewarding intervention for anxiety and mood disorder (4)(5)(6)(7).
More research on the ability of meditation to handle anxiety disorders have brought positive results and given more hope that it is an efficient tool to work with going by the way meditation affects and changes the brain (8)(9)(10)(11)(12).
How to Use Meditation to Overcome Anxiety
To beat anxiety with meditation, you first have to determine which kind of anxiety you have.
If your case is beyond the normal, day to day anxiety, it means you have chronic anxiety that could pose danger to your life.
We recommend taking a meditation based therapy to help you learn to manage and deal with it effectively. Some of these therapies include the MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). You can also consider the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program.
They are both 8 weeks programs that are very interactive and involving that help you learn more about your mind and emotions, and how to work with them for a healthy balanced lifestyle.
If you have mild anxiety that comes with an upcoming interview, exam, meeting people you feel anxious being around and such, then you have the normal anxiety that is mild.
For this, you should consider taking up meditation practices. You can choose one of the many types of meditation available which you feel addresses your insecurities and things you are often anxious about. The best way to go about this is to sit down and figure out which things make you anxious and then determine which type of meditation can help you work on them.
If you are still unsure about which meditation style to use, you can start off with mindfulness meditation to help you train your mind to stay in the present moment and give up thoughts of the future and past that drag anxiety along with them.
Compassion meditation is also another style that will help you feel good about yourself and others a midst your sufferings. And this promotes the states of relaxation, calmness and peace that you need to help you understand and solve the issues affecting you.
Ideally, meditation is a really good tool to have with you when you are anxious. Within a few minutes of meditating, you can lower high levels of anxiety and get to feel relaxed, peaceful and positive. And for even better results, you should consider doing meditation on a regular basis, not just when you are trying to get rid of anxiety.
It has so many benefits to offer and when it becomes a regular practice for you, you are able to keep anxiety at bay completely as well as improve your ability to respond to stressful situations with a calm face and mind.
Make meditation a part of your lifestyle and you will be happy you did a few months or years to come.