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Managing Anxiety During Difficult Times: Meditation for Non-Meditators and Other Tips

We are living in an unprecedented time. So much of what is happening is bizarre, confusing and exhausting, and we may find ourselves feeling fearful and anxious. There are many tools that can help us navigate these strange times. We are focusing on meditation here but explore what works best for you. What’s important during this period is that you stay open to new habits and that you see hope and opportunity in new things. After all, we are living in new territory and what seems to be a new era.

Meditation is an ancient practice that helps quiet our minds and connect us with our true selves. It allows us to control how we react to what life presents and not “fight” with what is happening. Instead, it equips us with the ability to accept what “is” with grace and ease. Meditation makes us demonstrably happier. It also has many health benefits:

  • Relieves stress
  • Improves focus, memory
  • Prevents relapse into depression
  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases symptoms of illnesses that have a stress-related component, like ulcers
  • Reduces muscular tension
  • Improves sleep

There are hundreds of meditation practices. We recommend this simple one you can do in 8 steps:

  • Choose a quiet place. You can put some music on if you wish. Incense or scent candles to awaken the senses can make it pleasurable and relaxing.
  • Find a comfortable seated position. You can sit crossed leg on a cushion (your legs should be lower than your back) or on a chair (your feet flat on the floor). Make sure your back is straight, not rigid though. It’s important that you feel comfortable. The physical position allows for a better connection with yourself. Positioned your arms on your thighs, your hands resting close to your knees. Your neck should be straight, and your chin tucked in a bit. Close your eyes or have them open with a soft gaze about 4 feet away from you. You may want to cover your lower body with a cozy blanket.
  • Set a timer for 8 or 10 minutes. Longer if you wish!
  • Ask yourself 3 questions. Answers can be simple and short.
  • Why am I doing this? For example, I need to relax, and this can be a good way to do it.
  • How am I feeling? For example, I’m worried, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m happy, or hopeful.
  • What is the quality of my thoughts? Self-destructive, positive or neutral.
  • Do a “body scan”. From bottom to top, go through your body and check how it feels (feet, ankles, knees, thighs, shoulders, back, neck, small muscles in your face, etc.).
  • Take 3 deep breaths. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make sure your belly expands. You may experience some tingling in your fingers, which is normal and a signal that your body is relaxing. Start with 3 seconds in, 4 seconds out, but don’t force it.
  • Make the choice to focus your mind in the feeling of your body breathing. Yes, it is as simple as this. Your mind will bring thoughts and that’s ok, that is what mind does. Don’t fight or entertain them; observe them and go back to the breath. Think of thoughts as clouds in the sky. They will come, you will notice them, and they’ll be gone. Your only job is to bring your mind back to the breath, as many times as you need!
  • Repeat these steps. Until time is up!

As with eating healthy and physical activity, frequency is what brings the most benefits, so practice well and practice often!

Here are other things you can do:

  • Stay connected. Call or Facetime a friend or a family member. Physical distancing does not mean social or emotional distancing!
  • Watch your favorites movies.
  • Pick a up new book or listen to a new podcast.
  • Cook if you are able to safely.
  • Do some coloring, drawing or crafts.
  • Sleep longer.
  • Listen to music.
  • Short online workouts can give you a burst of energy and help you feel well. Check sites like the YMCA for one that works for you. Check with your medical provider first if you haven’t exercised in a long time or want to try a new routine.

Choose to be well! Stay safe!

Questions or comments? Leave them below or email us at nutrition@glwd.org