Almost 2.4 Canadians experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and many more have occasional bouts of fretfulness due to pressures at work or home. While you can’t remove the stress from daily life, there are steps you can take to feel more at ease. Try these natural remedies.
Anxiety-Related Benefits of Meditation
Researchers have been studying how meditation affects a wide variety of health issues. Last year, the American Medical Association reported that meditation appears to be most effective in addressing anxiety, depression, and pain management.
1. Focus on now. Most anxiety tends to be centered on rehashing the past or anticipating the future. Meditation encourages you to engage fully with the present moment. Your attention switches from useless regrets and fears to constructive endeavors.
2. Connect with your body. Chronic anxiety takes a toll on your physical health through inflammation and other symptoms. Scanning your body reminds you to lower your shoulders and unfurrow your brow.
3. Change your brain. Meditation alters your brain so your contentment will grow. Stress hormones decrease and serotonin levels rise. Gray matter enlarges, while the amygdala, which processes fear, shrinks.
How to Meditate to Reduce Anxiety
Meditation can be adapted to suit your individual needs. Take classes or sit at home for free on your own schedule.
1. Start off gradually. The benefits of meditation can often be seen within a week or two, and even 10 minutes a day pays off. Set aside a brief time each day for contemplation.
2. Clarify your purpose. You may want to use meditation as part of your spiritual practice or take a completely secular approach. Meditation is not necessarily religious. You can develop greater peace of mind with your own set of beliefs.
3. Separate facts from feelings. Introspection helps you to distinguish between actual events and your inner thoughts and emotions. As you train yourself to think objectively, you can achieve greater control over your reactions.
4. Develop insights. Examining your mind also helps you to understand yourself and others. You may discover the root causes of your anxieties and how best to deal with them. Maybe you’ll want to replace negative expectations with a sense of curiosity. Perhaps you’ll pay more attention to the kindness you receive from others instead of conflicts.
5. See your doctor. While meditation is powerful, your physician may recommend treatments including cognitive therapy and medication if your anxiety persists. You can still practice meditation and other self-care to aid your recovery. Let your doctor know what you’re doing on your own.
Other Natural Anxiety Aids
Meditation is even more productive when you combine it with other healthy lifestyle choices. Take a look at your daily habits.
1. Eat whole foods. A diet full of processed foods and sugar aggravates anxiety and depression. Get most of your calories from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. I try to avoid added sugar as much possible as it gives me brain fog.
2. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Too much coffee may give you the jitters, and self-medicating with alcohol usually backfires. See if cutting back makes a difference. I personally stopped drinking alcohol one year ago and it really helped lessen my anxiety in social situations.
3. Exercise more. Physical activity melts away anxiety and stress. That’s especially true for vigorous aerobic workouts like running or rowing. Sometimes it might be hard to find the energy to exercise that is why I always exercise in the morning, instead of at night.
4. Rest and relax. Fight anxiety with a good night’s sleep and occasional breaks during the day. Go to bed on a consistent schedule. I love to meditate right before going to sleep so that I am relaxed and my head is clear from worries.
If anxiety is interfering with your life, help is available. Achieve greater peace of mind through meditation, and see your doctor if you need additional support.
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