By April Meyers,
In this year’s Stress in America report, the American Psychological Association revealed that people are feeling higher levels of frustration, anger, and fear. This shift toward more persistent negative feelings within the U.S. population is largely attributed (directly and indirectly) to COVID-19.
With so many individuals coping with new stressors that didn’t exist prior to 2020, stress management techniques have never been more important. One of the most effective strategies for reducing stress levels is meditation.
Learn more about the proven benefits of meditation, and discover tips for starting your own at-home practice.
Despite its increasing popularity, there are still plenty of misconceptions about meditation. To clarify, meditation does not require adherence to a specific religious practice, nor is it about clearing one’s mind of all thoughts.
Instead, meditation uses the concept of mindfulness to acknowledge and observe thoughts (rather than get caught up in them). It is through this practice that an individual can feel more at peace with their thoughts, calm the mind, and feel less stress.
Researchers have only begun to understand the real power behind meditation. Instead of simply functioning as a “feel good” self-care activity, mindfulness and meditation have been proven to deliver incredible benefits. According to Prevention Magazine, studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation can improve the symptoms of certain mental health conditions, reduce pain, improve your mood, boost your immune system, and combat premature aging.
Start with guided meditations.
Now that you know why meditation is so essential during these stressful times, it is important to learn how to start your own at-home practice.
For beginners, the best thing to do is to start by following guided meditations. You can find guided meditations on various meditation apps, as well as YouTube. They explain what to do — from start to finish — including proper breathing, how to sit, when to close/open your eyes, and how to approach your thoughts. Beginner guided meditations also explain important techniques that you’ll be using regularly, which is valuable when trying to get the most out of your practice.
Schedule meditation time for each day.
The benefits of meditation have been shown to increase the more you practice. Instead of meditating only when it comes to mind, be diligent with your practice. Put 10–20 minutes on your schedule each day, and treat it with the same importance as exercise or a work meeting.
Create a quiet at-home meditation space.
Having an interruption-free meditation space in your home is another critical piece of your practice. As a beginner, it will be easy to get distracted. That is why you should select an area in your home that is calm, quiet, and least likely to cause distractions while meditating.
If possible, enhance your chosen space even further to promote maximum stress reduction and tension relief. You can achieve this by decluttering and cleaning, setting up an essential oil diffuser, adding calming art, and letting in fresh air.
Be patient with yourself.
Feeling the benefits of your meditation practice will likely not happen overnight. While you will experience an initial release of stress, the deeper and more lasting benefits will take time to occur. If you are like most beginners, you will also find that you become distracted while meditating more than you would like. That is why it is crucial to be patient with yourself as you learn how to meditate. Developing your skills will take time, but it is certainly worth the effort.
As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, allow yourself to prioritize your self-care and mental health. Rather than letting stress build up to unhealthy levels, take control of your wellbeing by starting your own at-home meditation practice.
For more effective ways to keep your mental wellbeing in tip-top shape, learn all about Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or REBT and how it benefits you.
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