Some nights I have trouble sleeping because I can’t stop thinking about all of the things I have to do. Last night was one of those nights, so I woke up today feeling sleep deprived yet very hyper. I don’t know about anyone else, but my anxiety sometimes makes me so overwhelmed and unfocused that I can’t accomplish anything. I just sit and ruminate about all the things I have to do. And all of those things, those projects (whether work or home related) sit on my shoulders like a giant boulder and cause my heart to race. Of course, I’ll admit, my morning coffee probably doesn’t help the situation.
So what do I do when anxiety grips me? Well, I could choose to simply drown myself in a carton of ice cream (which I have done many times, but that’s another story). But when you have experienced the peace of mind that comes with breathing, meditating and checking in with yourself, the ice cream can’t really compare. It may feel ok in the moment but afterwards you are right back where you started, probably even feeling worse. The tasks you have in front of you won’t magically have disappeared. Sooner or later you’ll have to face yourself and your feelings, make decisions and take action. In every moment you can decide to be happy or you can decide to be unhappy. I know that if I want to choose happiness I need to allow myself the opportunity to stop, breathe, allow thoughts and feelings to simply float by like clouds in the sky, and then mindfully move through my day (and my to-do list). So once again it all comes down to meditation and mindfulness.
I SWEAR to you that after spending more than 25 years in and out of depression, adding meditation and mindfulness to my everyday is the one thing that has helped me the most.
Now before you stop reading this, I understand that meditation is something you will have to sneak up on. And don't say you can't meditate because it's all spiritual and weird. Meditation doesn't have to do with religion (unless of course you want it to then by all means go right ahead). If you need to call it something else then think of it as "checking in with yourself". No matter what you call it, the act of sitting quietly will take discipline because your old ways of thinking are going to put up a fight. Plus, you’ll probably feel some physical or emotional discomfort in the beginning. But I’m telling you it is so worth it. If I told you that you could change your life for the better in just 5 to 7 minutes per day, would you do it? Hell, I spend more time than that mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest! Why is it we have no problem giving our time away to things that aren’t nearly as important than our own mental health? It’s really crazy if you think about it. In just 5 to 7 minutes you can set yourself up for a better day and begin the journey towards changing how you respond to your thoughts. Scientists and doctors have proved it. So what are you waiting for?
I challenge you to give this 7 minute meditation from Arizona State University a try. It is simple, gentle, emphasizes the breath, and is great for beginners. Please let me know what you experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts and congratulate you on your effort to help yourself.