Healing disorders with meditation for Anxiety
Meditation is a magical way of healing disorders. Practicing meditation for anxiety regularly can bring in several positive changes to the mind and body. It helps us think better, work well, and see the world more positively.
Meditation means spending quality time with ourselves, and that is of utmost importance. In this article, we will deal with anxiety and how meditation can help get rid of it.
What is anxiety?
Our body’s and mind’s reflex reaction to stress is anxiety. We are stressed and experiencing anxiety when we constantly fear the unknown. It is the fear of negative outcomes or happenings. We keep thinking of everything negative that may happen to us.
For example, our first day at the new job will not be great or how I may look when I am on the stage and so on. In some cases, anxiety and this fear may last longer than a couple of months and start teasing our everyday lives. Moreover, you must know that you are experiencing not just stress but an anxiety disorder at this stage.
There is nothing wrong with being stress when you are going to start something new or an exam or interview. The anxiety of any form is a little distracting and disturbing, but it also motivates us to do better in life. If you are experiencing minor stress or anxiety, it will never interfere in your life.
If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, the worst may happen, and you will feel anxious all the time. It is disturbing and debilitating at the same time. Being anxious means, you will not focus on your everyday work and not enjoy activities that you love. When anxiety takes over you, it may result in fear of everything at all times.
You will fear going out and mixing with people, crossing the streets, or even climb stairs. It is a disconcerting feeling that you cannot get over easily. If you experience any of these signs, we suggest that you seek expert assistance immediately.
Moreover, there is no particular age to develop any kind of mental or emotional disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), women are at a higher risk of anxiety disorder than men.
Types of anxiety
Anxiety plays a pivotal role in triggering several other disorders. The following are the major types of anxiety disorders:
- Panic disorder- When you experience continuous panic attacks, it may result in a panic disorder. In this scenario, you will also live in fear of the next panic attack at all times.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — The term PTSD justifies the phase you go through after a certain trauma. It may last longer than you are expecting.
- Phobia- When you fear particular objects, activities, and situations too much that it plays with your mind.
- Social anxiety disorder- SAD is a fear that people will judge you for everything that you do.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — OCD is when you start thinking everything irrationally. You will also perform particular activities repeatedly and still not be content.
- Illness anxiety disorder- When you are constantly conscious about your health and fall ill, you may suffer from an illness anxiety disorder. Earlier, the term used for this disorder was hypochondria.
- Separation anxiety disorder is a constant fear of losing loved ones or being away from your home or family.
The symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person. The signs of anxiety may be as normal as butterflies in the stomach to a pounding heart with racing heartbeats. You may experience an imbalance between the mind and your body.
The worst part is that you cannot control all of what is happening around you. Well, you are experiencing an anxiety disorder and need urgent help. There are various other signs and symptoms that people experience due to anxiety. For example,
- Painful memories and thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Higher heart rate
- Fast breathing
- Focus issues
Do not get confused when you experience different symptoms than someone else. It is completely normal to go through different situations during moments of anxiety.
You are experiencing an anxiety attack when there is an extremely overwhelming apprehension, phobia, worry, and depression. In the case of most people, the attack stage develops very slowly. It will be at its peak when you are going to approach a stressful event.
Anxiety attacks can look different when you are analyzing different people. The signs also change over time. The most common symptoms when you experience an anxiety attack are:
- Dizziness or a feeling of collapsing
- Dry mouth
- Tingling or numb feeling
- Extreme sweating
- Hot flashes or sudden chills
An anxiety attack and a panic attack are somewhat similar but not the same. If you practice meditation for anxiety and stress regularly, you will get over the problem soon.
Causes of anxiety
There is no exact report as to why anxiety happens. However, indeed, it is not a result of a particular dysfunction. Anxiety is a combination of factors that become dysfunctional at the same time. The factors include all kinds of environmental, genetic, and brain chemistry factors. Certain sections of the brain help to control fear and distress, and anxiety restricts such functions.
Researchers are looking more into this disorder and are trying to develop some facts that will put the light on anxiety better. Meditation for anxiety is the best way to deal with the problem.
How does anxiety affect your body and health?
As we said earlier, anxiety and stress are part of life always. It only becomes a problem when anxiety becomes a chronic disorder, and you lose control over yourself. So, when your life's quality starts deteriorating and you start experiencing severe behavioral changes, you know something is wrong. Anxiety and its symptoms can also have serious effects on your body and health. The following are the most common effects of anxiety on your body and health:
1. GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is anxiety and stress for no particular reason behind it. The ADAA or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America assume that about 7 million American adults go through a severe anxiety disorder every year.
The Institute ADAA says that any stress or anxiety that lasts for 6 months or more raises a concern and may result in a chronic disorder. So, this will not just disturb your daily activities, but also your life as a whole. It takes time to develop, and it is even more difficult to get rid of it. We suggest that you practice meditation for anxiety regularly and not ignore any signs or symptoms you experience.
2. Affects the nervous system
If you are facing prolonged stress and anxiety, it may now affect your brain. The exposure will result in the release of stress hormones from the brain continuously. Moreover, this activity will increase anxiety disorder signs and symptoms such as headaches, depression, and dizziness.
When you are nervous or anxious, your brain releases a high amount of stress hormones and chemicals. Moreover, these hormones and chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline will somehow force you to respond to the anxiety threats.
The positive part is that occasional anxiousness and stress may help you achieve your goals better. They inflict a sense of challenge, and you work harder to achieve your goal. However, if you experience continued symptoms of anxiety, it may adversely affect your health. The first and foremost effect will be excessive weight gain. To keep these problems at bay, you should practice 20 minutes of meditation for anxiety.
3. Heart problems
The major problem of anxiety disorders is that they affect the cardiovascular system very badly. Major anxiety may result in breathlessness and an increase in heart rates. Moreover, anxiety attacks can also cause chest pains and palpitations.
You are now at a high risk of all heart problems and high blood pressure. The bad news is that if you are already suffering from heart problems, anxiety may make it worse and result in coronary issues.
4. Affects the digestive and excretory system
Anxiety disorders also affect the digestive and excretory system adversely. You may start experiencing stomach aches, digestive problems, diarrhea, and nausea, along with a severe loss of appetite. It may come as a surprise to you that anxiety is a major factor behind bowel infection.
Unfortunately, if you develop such infections, you will have to go through IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a major reason for more constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Meditation for anxiety is an ideal way to eradicate such problems from the roots by getting rid of anxiety.
5. Problems in the immune system
As we already know, that you may lose your fight stress response due to severe anxiety. Now you will experience an adrenaline and cortisol rush constantly. Moreover, this function is directly related to the functioning of your immune system.
Anxiousness will cause breathlessness and higher pulse rates. Although these two seem to be problems, the good part is that your brain receives more oxygen now, and you will respond better to a complicated situation now.
So, this is a boost to your immunity system. However, if the same function continues to happen for half a year or more, it is no more a good thing. In this case, you need to consult with someone.
If there are repeated anxiety attacks, likely, your body and mind will not function normally anymore. This is the worst situation in which your immune system completely surrenders, and you become so vulnerable and weak.
Your body and mind will not have the strength to cope with even the most minor allergies and diseases. Anxiety overpowers the body so badly that even regular vaccination cannot make things better. You can try some of the guided meditation for anxiety relief in such cases.
6. Respiratory System
Anxiety causes shallow and rapid breathing. If you are already suffering from COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you are at a higher risk. You may also have to be in the hospital due to complications resulting from anxiety. Anxiety also triggers Asthma and other breathing problems.
7. Some other problems
Apart from the main issues that we discussed right above, there are a few other problems that you may face because of anxiety. They are:
- Social isolation
- Muscle tension
If you have PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder, you may experience painful flashbacks. You will start reliving the trauma that causes you anxiety over and over again. Besides, this causes irritation and frustration and also emotional isolation. Other common signs are nightmares and constant sadness.
How does meditation reduce anxiety?
Meditation for anxiety is the best way to reduce anxiety from the roots. Meditation is much more than just de-stressing or calming down. Meditation and anxiety go hand in hand. Meditation works way more for anxiety than any pills or medicines. The following are some of the benefits of meditation to reduce stress and anxiety.
1. Emotional control
Meditation for anxiety helps us to calm down when we are practicing it. Do you think the effect lasts longer than the session? Yes, it does if you practice meditation regularly. You will become a more sorted person, and dealing with everyday problems will become easier for you, as per research on a group of people who took part in a 2-month meditation program.
After that, experts started their study on the emotional responses of the chosen people. The report says that after the meditation session, in every person, the amygdala or the emotional section of the brain worked better. So, this study report proves that emotional control lasts even when you are not meditating. However, to achieve such heights, you need to meditate regularly and with a lot of dedication.
2. Enhances compassion
One of the benefits of anxiety meditation techniques is that it makes people more virtuous and compassionate. Moreover, this benefit has been put to the test time and time again. An amazing study was done on a few people. So, this was an undercover test of compassion.
A stage was set, and two people sat there. Next, a third person enters the stage with crutches and seems to be in a lot of pain. The other two people have no idea that they are also actors and just do not bother to help.
However, when the other two people were put through the same test, they went up to the disabled person and helped him. The second pair were the ones who have been practicing meditation for a long time. So, this proves how meditation triggers compassionate feelings in people.
3. Structural alterations in the brain
Anxiety occurs when the brain releases excessive stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. However, meditation for anxiety is such a useful technique that can change your brain's structure within just 2 months.
A before and after the test was conducted on a group of 16 people. Pictures of their brains were captured before they started meditating and again after 2 months of daily meditation sessions.
Now, the hippocampus is that section of the brain that is associated with memory and learning. The gray matter and hippocampus go hand in hand. After meditating for 2 months, each of the 16 people's brain functioning was put on test. The same result proves that a prolonged period of meditation can magically increase the density of gray matter in the brain.
4. Pain relief
It is a fact that people who practice meditation become stronger than others. They feel lesser pain and are more resistant as compared to the ones who have never practiced meditation. Pain and stress are the main causes of anxiety and depression. If you can get over these, you are 50% successful already.
5. Cognition acceleration
How do you feel when people say that you are intelligent and prompt during situations? We all feel great with such compliments, but things are not so easy. Meditation for anxiety is the best technique to accelerate cognition in your brain.
Even if beginners can do about 15–20 minutes of meditation every day, they can receive magical effects in just a week. Guided meditation for anxiety and panic is also a great way to enhance the acceleration of brain functioning. Improvement rates have been noted by almost 70% just over a week. Just imagine the rate if you practice meditation for about a year.
6. More creative
Since meditation calms you down and reduces stress levels and anxiety, you can focus more on your passions. People who practice meditation regularly are usually more creative than the ones who never do. Mindfulness meditation for anxiety is the best when it comes to stress reduction. You become more attentive and focused after meditation, and thus your creativity gets all the exposure it requires.
7. More focus
As already said, meditation is the key to concentration, focus, and attentiveness. It reduces stress and anxiety, and you can stay calm. You should encourage children to practice meditation and see the behavioral changes in them. In most cases, meditation proves to be extremely helpful in the mental development of children and become sharper.
Children who practice meditation are more sorted, healthy, and more meritorious when it comes to academics. They are extremely self-motivated, have a positive approach towards life, and usually do better for themselves as they grow up.
8. More efficiency
Since meditation makes you more cognitive, you are also likely to become more efficient if you practice meditation regularly. Meditation for anxiety proves that people who practice it regularly can multi-task in the office and are more efficient at whatever they do.
5 Meditation methods to calm anxiety
It is always great to practice meditation for anxiety even if you do not have the exact environment, the complete setup, and the meditation music playing in the background. If you ever experience anxiety or panic attacks, meditation for anxiety attacks will play the role of a lifesaver. The 5 main methods of meditation to calm your anxiety levels are:
1. Concentrate on one thing
If you feel that you are in tension or a panic situation, just move away from the place. Now take some time off from the situation and try to divert your mind. The best way of doing that is by focusing on one fixed point.
For example, you are on a bus full of passengers and are feeling anxious constantly. Just try to look at one thing, such as a mark on your hand or your watch's dial.
Stare at one thing and keep staring at it for some time constantly. So, this meditation method can be practiced anywhere and is the easiest way to calm yourself down.
2. Repeat your mantra
Mantras are the revelations or words which we repeat during meditation. It is not mandatory to use a specific intricate word such as an ohm. You can use any word of your choice which you feel motivates you and calms you down.
Keep chanting that again and again. Whenever you are in an emergency that may lead to an anxiety attack, just think about how you practice meditation for anxiety at home.
Similarly, you just keep repeating your meditation word continuously. It does not matter if you cannot say it out loud in a public place. The word aims to keep your focus towards your meditation point.
3. Meditation for anxiety and depression
Meditate whenever and wherever you are feeling low and stressed. Meditation does not always need a time and place. It is a simple process of diverting your mind from the present situation and de-stressing yourself.
You can do it at home or work, or anywhere else. You can also do meditation while you are sitting or even lying down. There is no hard and fast rule, so the more you meditate, the better it is.
4. Focus on breathing
When you want your mind to be away from all other thoughts during meditation, you must know the proper method to meditate. While you are practicing meditation for anxiety disorder, just make sure that you de-focus on all other things that are crowding your brain.
You aim to focus on the portion between your nostrils and upper lips. We are talking about the breathing point, and putting your focus here means you are only thinking about your breathing.
Normally, your mind will be full of a lot of other thoughts during this time, but your objective is not to let the other thoughts divert your attention.
5. Keep away bad thoughts
Music works well when you are meditating. You will get a lot of guided meditation for anxiety and depression apps online. Just download one of these and play their meditation tracks.
They are soothing to the ears and help to keep away all bad thoughts from your mind. Meditation is about being positive, and there should be no space for any negative thought in the process.
The secret to fighting stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress are common factors for people nowadays. Everyone has busy schedules and no time for anything other than work. Moreover, this is building mental pressure continuously, and most of us do not know how to cope with this. There is no such secret to fight stress and anxiety that we may not know. Let us list some of them here.
Exercise and yoga are two of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety. It may sound a little weird, but physical stress in certain ways will indeed lead to a reduction of mental stress. For the best results, you need to exercise daily.
It is a fact that people who participate in physical activities regularly are happier and are less likely to develop anxiety. Exercising every day reduces the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol in the body. You will sleep better and be more confident in your skin if you exercise regularly.
2. Unknown supplements
Some natural ingredients work tremendously well against anxiety and stress. These have been in use from ancient times and are part of all the Ayurveda and Unani books. Such ingredients are not always present in your kitchen, but you can purchase them easily. Some of these supplements are:
- Lemon balm
- Kava kava
- Omega-3 acids
- Green tea
Aromatherapy is gaining popularity now everywhere in the world. People are getting knowledge about the benefits of essential oil more than ever. Aromatherapy works wonders when it comes to stress and anxiety. Some of the most soothing perfumes to keep anxiety and stress away are-
- Orange flower
4. Reduce caffeine consumption
Excessive caffeine consumption may lead to anxiety and insomnia. Caffeine is a substance that is present in coffee, green tea, and other beverages too. While, on the one hand, caffeine retains memory and is great for weight loss, excessive consumption may lead to adverse effects. The negative effects of caffeine include jitteriness, nausea, irritability, and sleeplessness.
5. Spend time with loved ones
In our busy lives, what we leave behind is spending good time with our loved ones. Try to take days off from your schedule and spend some time with your family and friends. You are making them happy, and as a result, you are happy too.
You are in a win-win situation if you do this regularly. On the one hand, you are getting breaks from work, and on the other, your family is also happy and content. There is no happiness greater than that of our loved ones.
The science behind meditation for anxiety
Anxiety is an outcome of anxious and stressful thoughts. After you think about something, the anxiety remains in your mind for some more time. It is scientifically a hormonal rush, and this takes time to fade away even after the thought has faded away from your mind.
Anxiety can be continuous if you keep thinking about the same thing over and over again. We are talking about thoughts that are triggering the flow of cortisol or adrenaline in the body.
The simulation's time frame depends on how seriously you think about something or how it affects your mind. While this goes on in mind, it creates a short-term stressful situation and gives way to long-term anxiety. Moreover, such stress and anxiety result in phobias.
The science of meditation for anxiety helps us to keep our minds away from such triggering thoughts. Practicing meditation for anxiety lowers and controls the secretion of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. So, meditation makes us calmer, happier, positive, and helps us lead anxiety-free life.
There are several types of meditation, and one of the most popular is meditation for anxiety. Almost every alternative person, including small children, suffers from stress and anxiety nowadays.
There are times when you won’t even realize that you are going through anxiety. For that, you need to focus on yourself and understand if you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety. If the answer is yes, meditation is your resolution.
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Originally published at east-asian-cultures.com on September 17, 2019.