If you've experienced stress and anxiety, you've likely heard of meditation as a means of relief. Maybe you've even tried before, but didn't find any benefits or had trouble sticking to consistent meditation practice.
Stress and anxiety, which affect about 31.1% of US adults, can impair our ability to perform normal daily tasks and can have long-term health effects. Research suggests that even a few minutes of meditation can help relieve stress and anxiety.
What is meditation?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is intended to promote peace, mindfulness and relaxation. In modern use, it is often combined with medicine and therapy, such as ketamine infusion, but can be practiced on its own. Just as you can exercise to strengthen your muscles, you can meditate to strengthen your mind.
The goal of meditation is to promote intentional presence and consciousness. It's important to practice awareness, focus, acceptance and observation. Most forms of meditation include elements such as limited distractions, comfortable posture, a focus of attention and a relaxed mindset.
Types of Meditation
Meditation refers to a variety of techniques, including:
- Guided meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Breathing exercises
- Qi gong
- Tai chi
- Transcendental meditation
How does meditation help stress and anxiety?
Stress and anxiety can trigger our stress response. While the stress response is helpful in some situations, too much of it can have negative effects on our physical and mental wellness. Stress can cause your body to overproduce cortisol, which can negatively affect the function of your brain, immune system, gastrointestinal system and more. You may experience increased headaches, emotional problems and digestive issues. Chronic stress and anxiety can also lead to conditions that may negatively affect your quality of life and decrease your lifespan. Meditation can often provide immediate relief from stress and anxiety during practice, but the effects can also extend into your long term physical, mental, and emotional health.
Studies show that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety. Because meditation targets the sympathetic system, it may also help to lower blood pressure and consequently reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Meditation has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms and behaviors of substance abuse by lowering the associated stress and anxiety. Other research suggests that regular meditation can positively affect activity of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for processing emotions.
New research also suggests that meditation may help ease some physical symptoms of illness and medical conditions. Studies show that participants with various medical conditions experience reduced symptoms with regular meditation practice, which in turn reduces the stress and anxiety related to illness and medical conditions. Ketamine for anxiety is another alternative to reduce these symptoms, which partners exceptionally well with the practice of meditation.
Tips to start meditating
Don't expect to be perfect at meditation right away. Meditation is an ongoing pursuit of relaxation and stress management, so it should always be a relative effort or practice. Don't overthink your posture, breathing or time too much. If your mind wanders or you struggle to stay present, try to acknowledge that and move on. Even those with years of experience can struggle with staying focused. If you worry too much about making your practice perfect, you'll procrastinate and avoid it altogether. It's best to just start and make necessary adjustments or improvements as you go.
Pay attention to your body
This can be as simple as concentrating your breathing whenever you find that your mind wanders too much. As you develop your practice, you can combine the attention to your breathing with body scanning. Practice awareness of the various sensations and where you feel them.
Try different kinds of meditation
There's no single right way to meditate. As you experiment with meditation, pay attention to what works for you and what you enjoy. If your meditation practice maintains the core elements of awareness, focus, acceptance and observation and helps you to relieve stress and anxiety, then that's the perfect practice for you. Some people may find that meditation works best when paired with other types of therapy like ketamine treatments, which help reduce physical symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, while promoting a stronger meditation regimen.
Set timers, schedule meditation and track your time
When you first start meditating, try to schedule it for a time when you're not already stressed or anxious. That way, you'll be better prepared to use meditation techniques in times of greater emotional distress. To avoid worrying about how much time you've spent meditating, set a timer for whatever length you want. Start small if you need to, and don't be judgemental of how long you do or don't spend meditating even 5 minutes can make a big difference. As you continue your practice, you might find that you're comfortable no longer timing your meditation.
Use guided meditation apps or audio aids
Some people don't know where to start when they begin meditation. If you need assistance focusing during your meditation, try a guided meditation app or audio aid; Headspace and Calm are popular.If you feel you might need a different type of treatment for your mental health condition, ketamine infusion therapy may be a good option when done in coordination with a plan that includes consulting with a mental health professional. Along with ketamine for anxiety, other therapies include ketamine depression treatment, ketamine for PTSD, and treatment for suicidal ideation. These therapies are all performed in state-of-the-art ketamine clinics, which provide a safe and reliable environment to receive the proper treatment necessary. Contact Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles at 310-363-7358 to find out if ketamine infusion therapy may be right for you.