We all respond to stress differently, and there's really no denying that our current situation is about as stressful as it gets.
So how are you doing? Better than you expected? Not so good? Well, did you know that how you respond to stressful events may actually have something to do with things like your background, upbringing, and the area in which you live? Our stress response is as individual as we are- no two people are alike that way. Likewise, the techniques that work for our stress management are also very individual. For every person who finds journaling therapeutic there is a person who considers it a tedious chore. Finding a combination of stress management techniques that work for you is critical to your mental health.
One way to manage stress and reduce anxiety is to practice the wonderful art of meditation. Meditation, a form of mind and body awareness, has been used for centuries and is widely used as an alternative treatment for conditions ranging from high blood pressure to ulcerative colitis. The practice of meditation focuses on the interaction between mind, body, brain, and behavior. Despite what you may think, meditation is really very easy to do and doesn’t require any fancy equipment.
The main things you need to meditate may not be the easiest things to find especially when most of us are home with our families, but even three minutes on the bathroom floor may be enough for you to reduce stress. To begin meditating you need to have an open mind, a comfortable and quiet place to sit still, and a few minutes to focus your attention.
To begin, find a comfortable place to sit somewhere away from distractions. Close your eyes and breathe as you normally would. Focus your attention on your breath and to your chest while you breathe. If your mind wonders, try bringing your focus back to a quiet place where your attention is solely on your breathing. Hold this position for three to five minutes, gradually working toward longer sessions as you improve. Congrats! You're meditating.
If you find that meditation works for you share your experience with your family and friends. There are lots of great resources available to engage in guided meditation and mindfulness exercises. Check out the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for free guided meditations and access to their free COVID-19 Well-Being Toolkit.
Good luck and happy meditating.
*Meditation may be added to your current stress management plan but should not be used to replace conventional care.