In today’s busy world, there are many things that can cause anxiety, and some people are more prone to it than others. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness among Americans, affecting some 40 million adults, over 18% of the U.S. population. While anxiety can sometimes come on for no reason at all, it often occurs during stressful situations, including events that are generally considered positive like buying a house. Simply searching through all the homes for sale in Indianapolis can cause someone to feel a bit anxious, just knowing how important making the right decision is.
Of course, there are pharmaceutical medications available for practically every condition these days, including anti-anxiety drugs, but those often come with a long list of side effects. Instead, consider a more natural way of stopping anxiety in its tracks: meditation. This ancient practice has been scientifically proven to relieve anxiety, including a 2009 study that revealed it helped patients immediately feel better in the moment, decreasing anxiety and increasing hopefulness. While it isn’t some magical elixir that will instantly take away all anxiety, it can help you to become more present in the now rather than fixating on some moment in the past or the future.
So how does it work? There are multiple ways that meditation works to ease anxiety.
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Quieting the Mind
Meditation helps to quiet all those racing thoughts that are going through your mind. The root of anxiety is often excessive overthinking. Instead of playing into thoughts of fear and worry, meditating allows you to identify with the silence in between each mental thought. By practicing regularly, you’ll be able to understand that you aren’t just your thoughts and feelings so that you can detach yourself from them, experience a sense of calm and feeling more centered and grounded. When a thought pops in, pulling you away from your center, meditating will allow you to return to that calm place once again.
It Cultivates an Attitude of Acceptance of Yourself
Meditation is not utilized for achieving a life totally free of stress and problems – that’s not going to happen for anyone. Instead, it’s used to develop the skill of nonjudgmentally looking at the issues you’re experiencing without placing too much value on them.
Regular Practice Strengthens Attention Muscles and Boosts Endorphins
By practicing meditation regularly, over time your “attention muscles” will strengthen. That means that you’ll be better able to pay attention to what’s happening now, preventing that continuous run on the hamster wheel in your mind. You’ll no longer have to waste precious energy on unproductive, fear-based thoughts. Meditation disrupts a brain that’s prone to worry while boosting “feel-good” hormones called endorphins, known for elevating one’s mood, reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep and brain functioning. That state of mind coined by runners known as the “runners high,” is a great way to describe this feeling that also occurs with regular meditation, a euphoric, yet Zen-like state of bliss.