Amie Sey, Inhere Studio Leader, explains.
Over 3 million people in the UK suffer from anxiety disorders
Fear, worrying and nervousness are not particularly positive emotions to experience, but they do have a purpose to keep us safe and aware during difficult times. However, for more than 3 million people in the UK, these feelings can become a part of daily life.
For a person with an anxiety disorder, the fight or flight reaction can be triggered by almost anything; this can make even the simplest of tasks feel like a life or death situation. Anxiety starts in the mind; but due to the mind-body connection, this very often leads to a physical reaction. Those who struggle with anxiety can also experience trouble sleeping, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, panic attacks, twitching, breathlessness, heart palpitations, digestive issues and many other side effects. It is likely that we will all experience periods of high stress or emotional pressure that could bring on an anxious reaction, but for a person struggling with a chronic anxiety disorder, this daily battle can be exhausting and affect many different areas of their lives.
Meditation for Anxiety
In recent years, mindfulness and meditation have been recognized as effective tools to manage anxiety, as they encourage the brain to counter the anxious behaviour and help to calm a worried mind. There have been a number of different studies that have found that practicing mindfulness & meditation produces positive results, with improvements in stress & anxiety. An example is a study from the Department of Psychology, Boston University, 2010, which studied a range of different forms of anxiety from social anxiety to anxiety in cancer patients, and confirmed that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20350028)
How does meditation ease anxiety?
- By developing a regular practice, a person can train the mind to simply watch thoughts pass instead of being carried away by negative thoughts and feelings. This can be particulate helpful to someone struggling with fearful or panicked thoughts as it allows them to separate themselves from the anxiety and give them to strength to return to centre when they feel distracted or overwhelmed.
- Stress and regret about the past or panic about the future can be major triggers of anxiety, meditation gives you the space to focus on the present which can have a calming effect on the mind. Over time, meditation can develop an attitude of acceptance; which helps to give you permission to be peaceful regardless of what is happening around you.
- Visualisation can also be a useful technique during meditation; it can help you see yourself floating above the stress and chaos or help you let go of tension you are holding in your body or your mind. By visualising like this you are tricking your mind into relaxing, which helps to release real tension and stress in your body.
Unfortunately, many people with anxiety assume that meditation will not work for them as they have too many thoughts running through their mind and the idea of sitting still for any amount of time is too much to ask; however with a little patience the benefits of meditation can present themselves quickly – just starting with 5 minutes of guided meditation a day will help to re-train the brain and centre the individual, helping them to manage their anxiety in a natural and healthy way.
At Inhere meditation studio we have a specially designed meditation for those anxious moments, Steady helps to create a positive space in your mind and teach you how to put unhelpful thoughts aside when they appear. Check out our online meditation classes to book yours.
UPDATE! If you are interested in meditation matters do check out our latest can you meditate lying down article