The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety Relief

Randy W

June 20, 2023 4 MIN READ

Anxiety

The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety Relief

Everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their lives. It’s an emotion that can be experienced in the mind as well as the rest of the body. It’s often accompanied by things like intrusive thoughts and high blood pressure and can negatively affect your everyday life.

Anxiety is often caused by stress, but it can go much deeper than that. People can have an anxiety disorder, which is a more persistent and serious kind of anxiety that doesn’t just disappear when a stressful situation is over.

Anxiety Disorders

There are different types of anxiety disorders that people can struggle with, but the most common is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This disorder is characterized by frequent anxiety experienced over a long period of time, usually years. People diagnosed with GAD may experience things like restlessness, increased fatigue, irritability, difficulty controlling thoughts or concentrating, body aches and headaches, and difficulty sleeping. Their symptoms often negatively impact their daily life.

Another type of anxiety disorder is Panic Disorder. This disorder is similar to GAD in that it is persistent and not something that goes away easily like common stress. However, it differs in that the anxiety often comes in waves in the form of panic attacks. These attacks are characterized by sudden moments of extreme anxiety or fear, often coupled with the feeling of losing control of their body, mind, and external surroundings. Physical symptoms of a panic attack are increased heart rate, shaking, sweating, feelings of paralysis, pain in the chest, dizziness, and nausea. In the periods between panic attacks, people with panic disorder spend a great amount of time worrying about when they’ll have their next attack, meaning that their lives are greatly affected regardless of whether they’re experiencing an attack.

What is Mindful Meditation?

Mindful meditation is a combination of two practices for mental training. The first practice is mindfulness, which is a type of thinking that concentrates on paying attention to the present and how it makes you feel and think, then learning to accept those feelings and thoughts instead of trying to alter or judge them. The second is meditation, which is a technique used to train the mind to remain calm and concentrate on positive thoughts and good emotions. When combined, mindful meditation can help people learn to master their thoughts and be able to focus on the present to remain positive and calm.

How Can Mindful Meditation Help Relieve Anxiety?

Every anxiety disorder has a common theme of mental symptoms like negative thoughts and feelings of fear. Individuals struggling with anxiety have difficulty controlling their thoughts and keeping their minds calm and positive. Since mindful meditation is meant to help conquer this exact issue, it makes perfect sense that many people with anxiety are starting to turn to this technique to find relief, especially when traditional treatments like psychotherapy and medication aren’t working.

A bonus is that mindful meditation can improve sleep and help battle insomnia and other sleep disorders. Many people with anxiety find themselves struggling to sleep, either because of a sleep disorder that stems from their anxiety disorder or because they’re kept awake by racing or negative thoughts. This turns into a vicious cycle because exhaustion can fuel anxiety, just making things worse. Mindful meditation can help alleviate these sleep issues, giving someone with anxiety some much-needed rest.

The Proof

With mindfulness and meditation growing in popularity, scientists have taken an interest in researching techniques and their effects on people. Multiple studies have shown that these techniques cause a decrease in stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts. At the same time, they’ve been proven to increase the ability to control thoughts and emotions while also improving sleep.

One of the first studies of mindful meditation and anxiety was conducted by Sara Lazar at Harvard Medical School. As a neuroscientist and assistant professor of psychology, Lazar was able to show that mindful meditation physically affects certain areas of the brain that help with controlling thoughts and emotions. Despite how recently this study was conducted, scientists have been studying the positive effects of meditation on the mind and body since 1975. There are decades of proof that these techniques can positively impact an anxious mind and improve that person’s quality of life.

How to Start

Before you begin, it’s important to understand that mindful meditation is meant to help you become more aware of your body and mind. Unlike other types of meditation, there is no need for any fancy candles or repeating mantras. All you need is yourself and a few minutes to spare without distraction.

Once they have the hang of it, some people like to squeeze their mindful meditation in during everyday activities, practicing in the shower or while waiting for dinner to cook. However, Beginners should give the meditation their full attention. If you’re a beginner, you should find a quiet and secluded area where you can sit comfortably and just be with yourself for a few minutes.

After you’ve gotten comfortable, set a timer. This will help you focus during meditation instead of worrying you’re going to be late for something or taking breaks to look at the clock. The suggested amount of time for beginners is 5 minutes.

Begin by focusing on the way you’re breathing. Do it deeply and slowly, letting yourself feel the way your body reacts to each breath. Pay attention to this for as long as you can. When your mind begins to wander, which it inevitably will, don’t fight it. Instead, acknowledge your thoughts while remaining calm and breathing deeply. Once you have given a thought your attention, guide your attention back to your body and breathing. Do this as many times as necessary without letting yourself get upset for having a drifting mind. This is very important, as mindful meditation is not about controlling your thoughts, but about remaining calm and accepting them as they come.

Are Your Thoughts and Anxiety Affecting Your Sleep?

As much as we’d all like to have an easy fix, sometimes a few minutes of mindful meditation isn’t enough to cure the problem. Our experts at Sleep Science Academy are ready to offer you support if you find yourself needing it. With a free consultation, we can get to the root of your problem and start working on a solution!