Mindfulness: A Quick Fix For Anxiety Stress And Feelings Of Loneliness
- Due to COVID-19 and the lifestyle changes we have been forced to make, many of us are struggling with anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness, and other difficult emotions.
- Fortunately, self-care activities such as mindfulness can help us to work through these emotions and relieve any anxiety or stress we might be experiencing.
- Mindfulness is refocusing your mind on the presentits bringing attention to everything happening in the current moment, as opposed to the past or future.
- To get started with mindfulness, simply find a quiet spot to sit or lay down then, ask yourself what youre feeling right now and then pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, even physical reactions.
- There are several specific mindfulness practices that can help you experience its benefits: grounding, positive mantras, deep-breathing, and simply moving your body.
How are you feeling right now? If we were to guess, youd probably say youre doing okay. And while that might be true, its probably also true that youre struggling with anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness, and/or other difficult feelings.
While this isnt easy for any of us, there are techniques that can help you confront and work through your emotions. One of these techniques is mindfulness, and were going to tell you all about it.
Types Of Meditation That Can Help Deal With Depression
Some meditation types help manage depression. Remember to continue with your medications and other treatments as you continue with meditation. Use it as part of your conventional medical care, and if possible, under your doctorâs supervision.
- Loving-kindness meditation. Focuses on creating a loving and kind environment for yourself. It can help remove feelings of doubt and self-criticism.
- Mindfulness meditation. Some people consider this the most potent form of meditation. Most other forms of meditation come from this type. Itâs about being aware of the present moment and feeling it to the fullest.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. This is a branch of mindfulness meditation. It blends with cognitive behavioral therapy for effective results and focuses on changing damaging behavior patterns and thoughts.
- Yoga. This is a meditative practice that involves physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.
- Visualization. When you focus on pleasant images, your brain becomes calm. It changes how you remember negative memories. You end up with happy thoughts.
- Chanting. This activates parts of your brain involved with emotional control and mood regulation.
- Walking meditation. This helps you to mentally and physically stay healthy and improve your flexibility.
A Psychologists Guide On How To Use Meditation For Depression
Treat depression at home
Get our psychologists tips
This article focuses on the practical use of meditation for depression, specifically on how to manage negative thoughts and strong feelings when depressed. Below, youll find a few of the most important insights from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and the last two sections offer you the top 3 meditation exercises for managing depressive symptoms.If youre new to meditation, the science-based article How to use mindfulness for depression in 5 simple steps will give you a quick introduction to mindfulness meditation and tell you how meditation for depression can be so beneficial for the brain.
Treat depression at home
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Guided Meditation For Loneliness
At Headspace, we believe in the importance of learning the difference between loneliness and being alone, and these distinctions are important as we start to shift our perspective, reconnect with ourselves, and then reconnect with the outside world. Being and feeling connected to others appears to be essential for our health and well-being.
“We evolved to be social creatures. Thousands of years ago, if you were connected to other people, you were more likely to have a stable food supply and to be protected from predators,” says former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “So when you’re disconnected, you’re in a stress state. When that happens chronically, it can have a profound impact on your health. The fundamental thing is this: We have for years thought about ourselves as an individualistic society that champions individual achievement, but what the data around loneliness tells us more and more is we’re truly interdependent creatures, and ultimately, we need each other.”
Whatever has created or caused the feeling of loneliness within you, a meditation for loneliness doesnt encourage us to move away from what you are feeling nor does it look for a solution. Instead, you will be encouraged to explore and investigate the feeling in order to find a sense of ease, without letting the emotion take you down.
Benefits Of Meditation For Depression
If you live with depression, you may experience a range of signs and symptoms, from deep feelings of loneliness and worthlessness to trouble sleeping, eating, and socializing. Meditation is believed to help support you through some of these effects.
At its core, its a way of training your attention so that, instead of finding yourself lost in difficult thoughts and feelings, you can gain new perspective and insight, says Laura Coleman, meditation expert and founder of Be. Modern Meditation.
As you train your ability to stay in the present moment, without judging it and getting caught up in your mind, the symptoms of depression become more manageable, she continues. wakes up your awareness to the full range of your experience, rather than focusing on the negative.The benefits of meditation extend further than just helping you become more in tune with your thoughts. Research indicates that meditation can have a positive physical influence on the mind and body including in some areas involved with depression.
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Free Guided Meditations For Depression And Anxiety
This is a great one if youre a chronic worrier like me. It helps you quiet down the voices in your head that love to worry about every single little thing that could go wrong.
This is a great one to try if you are having trouble sleeping.
This one has a magical feel that Im really into.
Another good one to try if you are having trouble sleeping at night.
I like that this one has a female voice. This is a good one to try if youre struggling with managing depression
This one has the ocean in the background which I am a big fan of. If the beach gives you peace I recommed trying this one.
This channel has a ton of awesome meditations. This is one of my favorites.
I hope you fond these guided meditations for anxiety helpful. I try to do one a day and I find it helpful to do it first thing in the morning.
If youre interested in more mental health related articles check out my other posts on anxiety.
Practice At The Same Time Every Day
Making meditation a habit can help your success.
Its OK to start small. Even 5 minutes a day can help. Try commit to 5 minutes every day at a time that works well for you.
Maybe you do a body scan in the shower every morning or do a sitting meditation right before bed. Maybe its the last thing you do before getting into bed each night. You might have to try a few scenarios before you find the most effective approach to meditation, but thats OK.
Once you find the right approach, youre more likely to stick with it.
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Guided Meditation For Loneliness Anxiety And Overwhelm
If you experience moments of loneliness and anxiety or if you feel generally overwhelmed with difficult feelings, listen to this guided meditation. I created it for one of my clients and she reported back that it really helped her to dive deeper into her feelings and eventually finding balance again. So I decided to make it available for you all. Do it once you are at home, with privacy, with headphones on, laying down so you can fully focus on it and relax into it. Let it affect you and repeat it as many times as you would like!
If you want more on getting the best out of your life and relationships, check out our new brand The Royal Path where you find everything about personal growth, deep healing and emotional liberation.
How Meditation Builds Up The Prefrontal Cortex
A landmark study by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar showed that the brains of meditators had remarkably more “prefrontal cortex gray matter thickness” with degree directly linked to level of meditation experience.
In other words, the more you practice meditation, the stronger & better your prefrontal cortex, the greater your emotional well-being and balance.
Just one of many studies illustrating the same thing, researchers continually find meditators to be the smartest, happiest, and healthiest folks.
If you want to rewire your brain for happiness while permanently unshackling the chains of depression, meditation is your master key.
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How A Weak Prefrontal Cortex Can Result In Depression
As we evolved from our prehistoric Neanderthal form to our modern human form, one particular brain region has risen to prominence.
Known as the brains overall thought orchestrator, “CEO”, and emotional control center the “prefrontal cortex” is pinpointed as perhaps the clearest dividing line between ancient man & modern man.
And this brain region is super-important for depression sufferers.
A study published in one of the worlds leading medical journals, “The Lancet” tested the brains of 17 clinically depressed patients. What did they find?
Kind of like that skinny-legged guy at the gym who only trains his upper body , the depressed subjects “emotional regulating” prefrontal cortexes were remarkably underdeveloped as compared to the rest of the brain.
Imagine if you could upgrade this amazing brain region, and in essence make an evolutionary quantum leap! You can, through meditation!
Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service
The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.
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When To Get Help
Depression can be serious. While meditation does show promise as a helpful approach for depression, its often not enough on its own.
If you have symptoms of depression, consider seeking support from a therapist before trying alternative approaches. Many therapists offer mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, so you can still incorporate the benefits of meditation into your care.
Meditation may not help much during a major depressive episode. If you have severe symptoms, youre better off talking to a mental health professional or your healthcare provider.
Keep in mind that meditation increases awareness of thoughts and emotions, so a potential outcome of meditation is worsened negative thoughts. Some people do report that depression symptoms increase with meditation. If this happens, you may want to stop meditating until you can talk to a mental health professional and get more insight and guidance on working through these thoughts.
Above all, its a good idea to get professional support as soon as possible if:
- your quality of life has decreased
- you struggle to manage daily life and responsibilities
- you experience physical symptoms, like fatigue, pain, or loss of appetite
- you have thoughts of hurting yourself or other people
I Always Feel Lonely What Can I Do
In modern individualist societies, more and more people are exposed to loneliness than ever. We have heard, that mindfulness meditation helps many of our personal problems, loneliness included. But is that really true?
If you ever feel lonely, you know what I mean. Its such an unpleasant feeling as if we are incomplete. Its an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy. We can feel lonely even when surrounded by many.
I remember being lonely as a family. We did a walk on a Sunday at 4, and I still felt we were isolated!
Its true that in a more collective culture, such as in Asia, the sensation of being lonely can be reduced at times. This is due to the fact that there are always people around, and you are involved in all social events and activities.
In a more individualist culture, more and more people are vulnerable to loneliness. A recent study found that three-quarters of the American population is lonely
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How Meditation Defuses Depressive Thoughts
Meditation works by quieting down the “worrywart” conscious mind, and bringing the far more powerful “present-moment” subconscious mind to the surface.
When we realize that our “hopeless” thoughts are actually not reality, that they are just secretions of our “tip-of-the-iceberg” conscious mind, then we stop fixating on them.
When we use our deep mind to take a step back from the conscious mind, not only do our negative thoughts become less frequent, but they lose their power to control us.
And so, instead of a negative thought spiraling out of control, digging a deeper and darker hole meditation ends it right then and there.
Sadness Is Not A Bad Emotion
We might feel as if we need to avoid sadness in our lives. The pursuit of happiness is often an escape from sadness. We want to feel the good stuff, not the more challenging stuff. But sadness is a natural emotion. It can help remind us of what gives our life meaning, what matters, and what leaves us feeling off. Sadness can be a signal. For example, if you feel sad that you havent seen your close friend in weeks, you might realize how important that friend is to you, and be more motivated to reach out.
Through brain research, Doctor of Philosophy Joseph P. Forgas found that sadness can also improve our memory, increase our social judgment, and increase our motivation and perseverance with difficult tasks. Whats more, Forgas found that sadness can make us more thoughtful, attentive, and considerate towards others.
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How Meditation Fills Neurotransmitters Empties Depression
As countless studies show with meditation, you can boost both serotonin and norepinephrine to healthy “depression resistant” levels… naturally.
In effect, meditation’s freshly drafted serotonin army will quickly neutralize any depression linked enemy combatants occupying your brain, while making it a powerful fortress against any future invader.
In other words, meditation creates a sort of “neurochemical utopia” where depression simply cannot survive.
While antidepressants are great for temporary happiness, if you want true and permanent happiness, meditation is the key.
It Helps Change Your Response To Negative Thinking
Depression can involve a lot of dark thoughts. You might feel hopeless, worthless, or angry at life . This can make meditation seem somewhat counterintuitive, since it involves increasing awareness around thoughts and experiences.
But meditation teaches you to pay attention to thoughts and feelings without passing judgment or criticizing yourself.
Meditation doesnt involve pushing away these thoughts or pretending you dont have them. Instead, you notice and accept them, then let them go. In this way, meditation can help disrupt cycles of negative thinking.
Say youre sharing a peaceful moment with your partner. You feel happy and loved. Then the thought, Theyre going to leave me, comes into your mind.
Meditation can help you get to a place where you can:
- notice this thought
- accept it as one possibility
- acknowledge that its not the only possibility
Instead of following this thought with something like, Im not worthy of a good relationship, meditation can help you let this thought cross your awareness and keep going.
Its a leaf floating along the river, not a whirlpool sucking you down. You can return to enjoying the moment without getting trapped in a cycle of increasingly distressing thoughts.
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The Curious Case Of The Shrinking Hippocampus
With 1 in 15 people suffering major depressive disorder at any given time, there is no shortage of people ready and willing to put their brain under the microscope in hope of a cure.
Thankfully, with journal after journal of promising insight into the so called “depressed brain,” neuroscientists understand this ugly mental health issue’s moving parts better than ever.
A landmark Washington University School of Medicine study MRI imaged the brains of 48 women, half of which were suffering from major clinical depression. What did they find?
Versus the control group, the “hippocampi” of the depressed patients had atrophied significantly, with a clear link between “number of years depressed” and degree of shrinkage.
To illustrate the findings, when we break our leg, its size and strength slowly dwindle away inside our orthopedic cast. When depression has us on the ropes, our brain’s hippocampus slowly wastes away inside our noggin.
The Impossible Task Of Erasing Negative Thoughts
In a moment, you will get the opportunity to explore two meditation exercises that will help you manage depressive thoughts. In preparation for that, lets focus on what NOT to do. DONT try to erase your thoughts. It is tempting, but please try not to. Mindfulness meditators realised long ago that its impossible to erase negative thoughts. Usually, we can distract ourselves for a moment, but often that makes the thoughts come back with an even higher intensity. This audio recording illustrates my point quite effectively:
Did you, at any point, think about a white bear? Most people do of course. When we decide to NOT think about something, the mind constantly has to remind itself about what is forbidden to think about, and the thoughts keep returning.So, if we cant force negative thoughts to go away, how do we handle them? Well, the mindful way to do it is to become the Observer. This is a part of ourselves that can observe thoughts and feelings without getting drawn into them. Some mindfulness meditators talk about a beginners mind. Its when we observe thoughts and feelings from a curious perspective, just watching them come and go. You can achieve this state of mind by imagining that youre a small child, observing something for the first time. A small child explores the world without thinking about how things are supposed to be because its never seen them before.
Here come our first two meditations for depression!
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