How to Reduce Your Anxiety in 5 Simple Steps

Step 2: Try Meditation

Last week I started my 5-part series on practical tips you can start today to reduce your overall anxiety.  Did you try a news fast?  If so, did you notice any difference in your overall mental state?

I regularly participate in news fasts and I find that during these times I’m often more present during my daily activities.  It’s so much easier to focus on what is happening in my life right now when I’m not obsessing about global events that may or may not impact me directly.

The other thing that I notice when I’m participating in a news fast is that I suddenly seem to have more free time.  The minutes and sometimes even hours I spend during the day reading articles and scrolling social media are suddenly available for something else.

That brings me to my second suggestion to reduce your anxiety.  I recommend that you try daily meditation.

There are numerous studies demonstrating the health benefits of daily meditation.  It has been shown to help with symptoms not only related to depression and anxiety but also with high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and even chronic pain. 

I started a daily meditation practice almost 3 years ago and I can tell you that I absolutely notice a difference on the days I skip my meditation.  There is something incredibly refreshing about setting aside dedicated time each day to just practice being present.

So, how do you start a meditation practice?  The easiest way is to just find a quiet spot, set a timer for 5 minutes, and focus on your breath.  Pay close attention to each breath.  Where do you feel it in your body?  How long is your inhale and your exhale?  What does the brief pause before the next breath feel like?  The goal isn’t to stop thinking.  The goal is more to transition to the role of an observer of one’s own mind for a period of time.   As you get more comfortable, you can lengthen your time.

If that sounds a little too free form for you, I highly recommend guided meditation apps.  I use Headspace – a daily meditation that you can set to anywhere from 3-20 minutes in duration.  They also have a large variety of courses that take you through different meditation techniques as well as timers and short sessions focused on topics like sleep, stress reduction, and mindful movement.  I’ve also used the Calm app and there are excellent guided meditation series available through The Chopra Center.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you meditate.  It’s the act of doing it that makes the difference.  Daily meditation is also an excellent opportunity to build a practice of showing up for yourself every day and following through on what you said you were going to do.  This practice of honoring your commitments to yourself is one of the primary focuses of the Unicorn Doctor coaching program. I’d love to work with you.