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Meditation for Stress Management: De-stress With Traditional Meditation and Sleep Meditation for Anxiety
Have you been feeling a little extra stressed lately, and wondered how meditation for stress management might help? You’re definitely not the only one. Stress and anxiety aren’t just unpleasant, they can be harmful to many areas of our overall health and wellness. If taking a deep breath and counting to ten just isn’t cutting it anymore, you can definitely benefit from using meditation for stress management.
De-stressing with meditation is a lot easier than it sounds, and using meditation to de-stress doesn’t require years of training in a Buddhist monastery! In this article, we’ll take a look at how meditation can help your health, explore some easy ways to implement meditation for stress management, and talk about how a lot of people have turned to something called sleep meditation for anxiety and stress. /
Why Using Meditation to De-stress Can Help Your Health
Anybody who’s felt stressed out before knows that it’s more than just a mental sensation. Stress and anxiety are often physically noticeable through knots in your stomach and shaky hands, which hints at the fact that stress can have a real impact on your body. In addition to causing headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, and sleep problems, the Mayo Clinic states that unchecked stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Researchers have come to understand a lot about using meditation for stress management, and the results show that if you’re looking to de-stress, meditation is an excellent option. A meta-analysis by Johns Hopkins looking at 47 different trials examining meditation to de-stress concluded that meditation does in fact help to reduce anxiety and stress.1 In fact, it can even change your brain on a physical level by strengthening the areas responsible for emotional regulation, while shrinking brain cell volume in the area responsible for stress and fear.2
The list of benefits goes on, with promising results to suggest that meditation may also help with concentration, chronic pain, stomach ailments, and even sleep. Without further ado, let’s get into some simple methods of meditation for stress and sleep.
How to Use Meditation For Stress Management at Home
To de-stress with meditation, there are a few core philosophies to keep in mind. The idea is to reach a state of heightened relaxation by eliminating frantic thoughts and being in the moment. There are plenty of different ways of meditating to de-stress, with common techniques including:Mindfulness Meditation: Also known as “vipassana”, mindfulness meditation has a deep root in Buddhist teachings. While focusing on the sensation of your breathing, allow yourself to be aware of your thoughts without engaging them. This lets you practice being mindful and in the moment to prevent you from succumbing to stressful thoughts in your day-to-day life.
- Transcendental Meditation: Another great method of meditation for stress management, this involves choosing a word, sound, or phrase (known as a mantra) to repeat mentally while sitting with your eyes closed. By doing so, you allow yourself to reach a higher state of relaxation without needing the concentration involved in mindfulness meditation.
- Progressive Relaxation: Sometimes called “body scan meditation”, progressive relaxation involves focusing on individual parts of your body as you breathe deeply and concentrate on relaxing them. Start with your feet, and gradually move all the way up to your head!
- Walking Meditation: A fantastic way to combine exercising and meditation to de-stress, walking meditation also highlights mindfulness. Rather than letting your mind wander, focus on the subtle sensations like the movement of your body and your breath. If your concentration wavers, simply return your focus back - it takes practice!
- Guided Meditations: Perfect for beginners, guided meditations for stress and sleep involve listening to a narrator to lead you through the process. You can find free guided meditations on YouTube, or use popular apps like Calm and Headspace.
A notably popular form of guided meditations are “sleep meditations” for stress and anxiety, which we’ll explore now.
How to Practice Sleep Meditation For Anxiety and Stress
Whether you’re specifically interested in meditation for stress relief and sleep because of insomnia issues, or just want an easy way to start, sleep meditation is an excellent option. It consists of bringing some of the meditative principles we just discussed into your nighttime routine as you’re going to sleep, when you’re already in a more relaxed state.
To practice sleep meditation for stress on your own, you should first relax and lie quietly in bed. It’s up to you which meditative technique to use, but this is a perfect setting for the progressive relaxation method. Ultimately, the end-goal is to reach a state known as “yoga nidra” or “yogic sleep”, which is a mindstate somewhere between wake and sleep that fosters high levels of relaxation and mindfulness.
If that sounds a little hard to wrap your head around, there are tons of guided sleep meditations for stress and anxiety readily available online - UCLA even has free recordings available. What you can expect is a narrator helping to lead you through the process by calmly directing your thoughts toward your body, your breath, your feelings, and more. Not only are sleep meditations for stress and anxiety great for your mental wellbeing and health, they’re perfect for directly helping with falling asleep.
It’s hard to overstate how worthwhile it is to use meditation for stress management, especially considering how many benefits it touts while being so easy to implement. While there is practice and dedication involved, de-stressing with meditation is relaxing, healthy, enriching, and might even help you reach that state of universal enlightenment you’ve been after.
Well, that part might take a few decades of practice and discipline (perhaps even a trip to Tibet), but you might as well get a head start by beginning your de-stressing meditation journey today!
- Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EMS, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357–368. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018
- Hölzel, Britta K et al. “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.” Psychiatry research vol. 191,1 (2011): 36-43. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006
The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any disease.