In high school, I got into mindfulness meditation. My mom, who was an avid meditator, introduced me to a guided mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn is one of the founders of the mindfulness meditation movement. He runs the stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts. Listening to the guided mindfulness meditation helped me to calm my anxiety down in a way that I never knew was possible. It was life-changing for me. Before I started meditating, I had panic attacks that consumed me every morning; they were so severe that I couldn’t eat without feeling like I was going to be sick — I had to wait to eat until after I meditated.
Meditation was a game changer for managing my anxiety. I learned after starting mindfulness meditation that it was an integral part of treating my panic attacks. Each morning of my senior year of high school, I would practice meditation to calm myself at the start of the day. Managing my anxiety disorder was something that I knew I would have to do for the rest of my life. But having the tools to do so using a guided meditation made me feel calmer, ironically.
Mindfulness was the security blanket I needed. It helped me calm my mind and even sleep better. I felt empowered knowing that I had a positive coping mechanism for anxiety. Before I started meditating, anxiety was running the show. After practising guided meditation for an extended period of time, I was able to see anxiety differently and realize that I could cope with it. Meditation made feel grounded and in control of myself.
Meditation can also be helpful for depression, which is notorious for putting negative thoughts in our heads. The feelings derived from our thoughts are pervasive and they can make us feel down. Using meditation can help us to observe the ideas and not engage with them — you look at your thoughts and you do not accept them as a part of you. They are external.
Your treatment plan is individualized and based on your mental health needs. How you achieve psychological wellness is something that you all decide for yourself. Meditation can be an integral part of how you manage your mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Another thing that you can do to take charge of your mental health is to research resources to find counselling; whether you see a therapist in the office or an online counsellor with a company like BetterHelp, you have the power to get well.
Anxiety and depression do not have to rule your life. Meditation can help you through the storms that brew in your mind. You are in control even if you think that you aren’t. Sometimes, feeling out of control can be empowering. When you trust something more significant than yourself you can let go of your control issues and be confident that things will work out the way that they are supposed to. Anxiety is the persistent worry associated with the future, and you can recognize that and be present in the moment.
This is a guest post from Sarah Fader:
Sarah is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.