Experts in this article
- Anisha Patel-Dunn, DO, Therapist and Chief Medical Officer, LifeStance Health
- Jeff Warren, Jeff Warren is a meditation expert who writes “The Daily Trip” for Calm. He is also co-author, along with Dan Harris and Carly Adler, of Meditations for the Restless Skeptic.
Guided meditations show listeners the way and can help reduce the stress of regular meditation. So if you find it difficult to sit quietly and think, but want to learn how to relax your mind and reduce anxiety, guided meditation can help. Want to know more? Keep reading to discover the benefits of meditation, ideal meditation length, and more.
Can meditation really help with anxiety?
While some people may think of meditation as just a meditation practice, it is actually a powerful tool for reducing anxiety. reason? “You need to tune in to your body and mind, and that’s what makes you feel anxious in the first place,” says Jeff Warren, meditation expert and author of Calm’s mindfulness app, The Daily Trip. It helps us identify why.”
“A lot of times we don’t realize it. We think it’s normal to have low levels of stress,” Warren says. “We are constantly worrying about the future, our bodies are constantly agitated, we do not sleep well. These are all different ways anxiety manifests itself. I imagine it’s possible.”
It’s normal to be stressed from time to time, but it’s not normal to be tense all the time. Thankfully, dedicating time to mindfulness techniques such as anxiety-relieving meditation (such as full-body scans) encourages you to be in touch with your physical and mental state, and in the process, to help you manage your anxiety. can be soothed.
“With mindfulness, you can start noticing unpleasant emotions in your body and anxious, persistent thoughts that loop in your mind,” says Warren. “This increased awareness gives us a little more room to intervene.”
For example, you may be feeling anxious about an impending date. During the full body scan, I noticed some residual tension in my shoulders and neck. Lean into that awareness and you may be able to fully unwind and relax yourself. Doing so will give you physical sensations that will ease your mind and give you room to reflect on what makes you feel so tight in the first place. From there you can decide what to do next. Do you intuitively want to cancel this anxiety attack, or are you simply nervous about how things will change as a result of going out?
The science behind meditation for anxiety
“The practice of mindfulness meditation has a long history of being an effective way to reduce stress levels,” says Anisha M., family therapist, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Lifestance Health. Dr. Patel Dunn says: “And many people use it as a tool for overall mental health.” Although the subject is still under research, there are numerous reports highlighting the benefits of meditation.
Want to know how long you should meditate to get rid of anxiety? A study published in JAMAPsychiatry The researchers compared patients who underwent an eight-week mindfulness meditation program with those who took the anti-anxiety drug escitalopram, the generic name for the widely prescribed anti-anxiety drug Lexapro. The study found that both methods work equally well. After eight weeks, both groups found an approximately 30 percent reduction in overall symptoms.
However, it’s worth mentioning that these results are based on large-scale efforts and may not work for everyone. The study randomized 276 adults diagnosed with an untreated anxiety disorder into two groups. One group received a standard dose of 10 to 20 milligrams of escitalopram daily, and the other group received weekly 2.5-hour mindfulness classes using an approach called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). and 1 day weekend allotted. Class and daily 45 minute home practice.
Participants in the meditation group learned several mindfulness techniques, including body scanning, which focuses attention on one part of the body at a time, and mindful movement and breath awareness.
How long does the anxiety-relieving meditation take?
A 2.5-hour meditation class, plus daily home practice, and full-day classes on weekends have been shown to be as effective as Lexapro doses, although shorter meditation times may still be beneficial. there is.
According to a study published in American University Health JournalThe researchers found that 5 to 12 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day led to reduced stress and anxiety, with greater changes observed after more minutes of sustained meditation, and an increase in mindfulness. found to be related.”
This is especially great news as many meditation apps offer a variety of guided meditations ranging from 1 minute to 1 hour, with some ranging from 5 minutes to 12 minutes. All of these meditations are helpful in the moment, Warren notes, but even just his five seconds of pausing and self-evaluation can help.
“Take a moment to notice that you’re acting like you’re stressed, and deliberately take a deep breath, squeeze your limbs, put your hands on your stomach, exhale, and let your legs go. Just feeling your feet on the ground can help interrupt some people’s stress, “the end-of-life rumination cycle,” Warren says. “The more often you do this, the more effective it is. That’s why people string those five seconds of him into one minute, five minutes, ten minutes.”
And importantly, according to Warren, when it comes to finding an effective time to meditate, it comes down to what works best for you. “Some people find it difficult to stay in meditation for long periods of time, but that’s okay. Others really get into it and find that after 10 minutes or so, they just calm down,” he says. Masu. “I have to get it done.”
Can Meditation Relieve Anxiety?
Having an anxiety disorder is difficult and takes effort to maintain your mental health. That’s why it’s good to have reasonable expectations when it comes to treatment, says Dr. Paterdan. She doesn’t expect medications or meditation to make her symptoms go away completely, but she does hope that it will reduce daily stress, she said.
Anxiety mediation can help you identify your stressors and triggers, which in turn can help you reassess your thoughts and behaviors. That said, mediation is not a surefire solution to anxiety. “When I was struggling with long-term chronic anxiety, continuing to meditate regularly was a big change, as was talking to a therapist,” says Warren. “Sharing your emotions with a professional is like doing social meditation. Anxiety is less likely to take root in the larger vessel of our shared consciousness.”
Still, some people living with an anxiety disorder may feel that mediation alone is not enough. If your current anxiety-reduction methods don’t seem to reduce your anxiety, it may be time to see a trusted mental health professional, says Dr. Pateldan. “They can be a valuable resource and are trained to help develop individualized treatment plans,” she says.
And even if in the process you (and your doctor) decide you need medication to manage your anxiety symptoms, it’s perfectly healthy and normal, says Dr. Pateldan. “Medication is an evidence-based treatment that has been shown to be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder,” she says. “This is her one tool in the psychiatric clinician’s toolkit, and it may be used effectively in combination with other therapies.”
How to incorporate meditation into your daily life
Ready to start meditating for stress and anxiety ASAP? Start with Calm’s 30-Day Mindfulness Course for Beginners. This course is available with a $70 annual platform subscription. Each day you will be introduced to a different guided meditation of 9 to 14 minutes.
Whether you’re working on these mediations or outside of them, showing compassion to yourself in the process can be very soul-nourishing, says Warren. “Put your hand on your chest or belly and say to yourself, ‘Oh, that’s going to be hard,’” he says. “Rest and lie down while doing this. Nurture with compassion. A loving response like this helps calm and stabilize the nervous system.”
Another option is to use the ancient practice of MBSR, which has existed for over 40 years and is based on established principles of Buddhist Vipassana meditation. It focuses on the deep interrelationship between mind and body and on being fully focused on the present moment and present. The guiding principle is to notice when your mind is straying, and not judge yourself if you are straying.
While it’s a common assumption that deep meditation takes place while you’re sitting on a pillow specifically designed for meditation, surrounded by the essentials of a meditation room, you can actually practice mindfulness anywhere. Yes, Dr. Pateldan says.
Warren echoes this sentiment, noting that if sitting feels too exhilarating, paying attention and moving your body may be more beneficial. “It’s a slow meditation that brings attention to flow and a sense of movement, whether it’s stretching, shaking, walking, yoga, martial arts,” he says. “You can also bring your body in motion out into nature and open your senses. As long as you are really engaged in listening and seeing rather than just brooding over your problems, that is meditation.”
When it comes to hearing and seeing, the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety can help if you need a helpful reminder of how to meditate and practice mindfulness in your anxiety spiral. The idea is that when stressed, stop and he recognizes three sights and he recognizes three sounds, moving her three parts of the body, he can focus on the present moment.
According to Warren, the most important premise behind mindfulness and meditation is to reveal your true self. “At the end of the day, meditation is more than just a tool for managing anxiety. It is a lifelong journey of learning that beneath anxiety lies the foundation of peace and clarity that is who you really are.” he says.
Of course, to reap the benefits of anxiety meditation and mindfulness, you have to keep practicing, even if it feels impossible. “Your mind wanders and comes back. It’s always part of the natural rhythm of being distracted and coming back,” says Warren.
Overall, no matter how you choose to weave anxiety meditation into your daily life, the overall goal is to keep it simple.
“The key is not to make a fuss about it,” Warren says. “Make it a natural part of caring for yourself and do it here and there.” You can do it while you’re there, he says. It can be done while sitting down with a cup of coffee as part of your morning routine. It can be done at the end of the day’s work.
“Work smart. Work with how your life is already structured,” says Warren. Incorporating meditation into your life in this way will make it more sustainable, he assures, rather than the extra hassle of ticking off a to-do list.
Hoge, Elizabeth A. MD, et al. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Escitalopram in Treating Adults with Anxiety Disorders” JAMAPsychiatry2023, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679.
Burgstahler, Matthew S, Mary C Stenson. “Effects of Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Anxiety and Stress in a Pre-Healthcare College Population: A Pilot Study” American Journal of Health : J of ACH vol.68,6 (2020): 666-672. Doi: 10.1080/07448481.2019.1590371