The act of meditating can be such a powerful and eye-opening experience. Realigning your inner spirit and centering yourself can help with so many things mentally. When you’re having a tough day or a tough week, or anxiety levels are high, meditation can help calm the mental chaos and organize your thoughts and feelings into manageable puzzle pieces. It can help ground you and keep you present in the moment when you feel like you may fall off the deep end. It’s important to note when you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed and imbalanced, and how to begin centering yourself in such moments. Read below for my personal steps for realignment.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist. If you have feelings of unmanageable anxiety or depression, you should consult a trained mental health professional. This blog is intended to elaborate on coping skills that have worked for me, and may assist others as well for short-term solutions.
Step 1: Breathe
Something that seems so simple can require so much deliberate action. Having trouble controlling your breathing can be the first sign of an anxious mind. Do you ever find yourself becoming so excited and preoccupied with a thought that you notice you’re taking much shorter and ineffective breaths? You’re not alone. While the act of breathing in itself is an unconscious act we do from the moment the doctor slaps our baby bottoms, the act of keeping our breathing steady can require a bit more thought to maintain. We tend to shorten our breaths when we need more oxygen more quickly to certain areas of the body (like your brain sometimes). And while it can be great for short-term needs like exercise (or sex), it can also be a detriment to an unsettled mind. A lack of oxygen to the brain in stressful situations can actually inhibit the usage of areas in the mind that control logic, stabilization, and reasoning. This instead gives us only a short-supply of energy, usually needed for “fight or flight” mode, making your mind feel like it’s going a mile a minute and heightening your senses. This is a land mine for an already anxious mind. Taking nice slow and full breaths allows oxygen into those other areas of the mind, and can help calm the heart-rate.
Step 2: De-clutter Your Mind
For me, being a person with a need to be in control, I often find myself overthinking, over stressing, and over-crowding my mind with too much information all at once. While it’s nice to be detail-oriented and two steps ahead in career and production, this can have quite the opposite effect when it comes to living everyday life with a peaceful mind. To help with this, try doing a mental assessment of what you’re feeling in the moment. Whether it’s fear, shock, anger, pain, or confusion. Sometimes identifying the emotions you’re feeling can make them seem more manageable in order to work with one at a time. While anxiety can often appear without a seemingly clear cause, taking inventory of what you feel and think individually can give you a sense of understanding. And accepting the emotion you feel can allow you to begin to question why you feel that way as you dig deeper within yourself.
Step 3: Realize You Are Not Alone
Sometimes the source of our anxiety is rooted in feelings of pressure and isolation. We become so overwhelmed in the moment, and in our heightened state as we look around and see others seemingly in better moods, we think no one else could possibly feel the pressure we do in that moment. Personally, sometimes I even feel embarrassed about what I’m feeling, which makes the anxiety much worse and unwelcome and confusing. Don’t fret, you are not alone in this feeling. The human capacity to feel and have fluid emotions is a complex process, but we have all been there in the isolation of our own minds. While each of us have unique experiences, we all gravitate to some of the same emotional patterns. You will not fall from the face of the earth. You will be okay, I pinky promise.
Step 4: Meditate
In a world that moves quickly and throws a lot of industrial noise around, sometimes allowing myself to be at one with nature can be extremely helpful with putting my priorities into perspective. When my problems and feelings seem larger than I can handle, sometimes a reminder of the things that are bigger than me can reduce my view of them. Meditation is an exercise that can be continually perfected with practice and guidance, but the process is a rewarding and calming experience. In our overactive world, it’s imperative to stop and take in the present moment for what it is; to put things into a more realistic view. For those of us with extremely active minds that don’t stop just because we tell them to, guided meditation can be a god-send for help with bringing awareness to your present. It helps with releasing the tension and chaos in our minds, especially over soothing sounds like babbling brooks or beach waves. And this seamlessly combines with step 1 for controlling our breathing as well! Take a look at some of these meditation apps for when you need a few minutes to yourself (don’t worry, these are both #teamiphone and #teamandroid friendly).
Step 5: Release the Energy
Though we tend to think of our thoughts and feelings as intangible and easily changeable, all that you feel is a result of energy within you. And sometimes that energy needs a real exit from your physical body. It’s important that you allow yourself to get rid of this pinned up mass through some sort of outlet. It can be crying, screaming, talking it out with a trusted friend, painting, creating music, yoga, sweating it out with a good workout, writing in a journal, or any other physical action. The options are endless as to how you can release this negative energy in a healthy way. For me this is often the fun part, because it lets me address my emotions in an uninhibited and judgement-free way that tends to lighten my mood in the process. Seeing a therapist regularly can certainly help with navigating the roads of your mind and releasing your demons as well. And more importantly, talking to an unbiased professional can provide you a subjective view outside of your own mind, and allow you to come up with better solutions together when detailing your issues in a more organized fashion.
If you don’t take anything else away from these words, remember this: you are not alone, no matter how individually devastating your situation feels. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious can be a bit scary at times, but it’s only a consequence of being a human with a heartbeat. Don’t run from your feelings. Instead, allow them in, and allow yourself to assess them fully. Only then can you understand yourself and take power over your brilliant mind.
Asé beautiful people.