Meditation for People Who Don’t Like to Meditate
These days, mindfulness and meditation are the go-to recommendation for stress management. But do they really work for regular people?
The American Psychological Association estimates that almost 20% of Americans struggle with anxiety. It’s safe to say we could all use a healthy new way to deal with stress, both in the moment and in the long term.
Maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but you don’t have time for that. Or maybe it just sounds weird. Or maybe you’re used to dealing with stress, you’re managing to cope.
Experience in coaching hundreds of women through life change has taught me, the key to getting unstuck in any challenge you’re facing is knowing how to manage your stress and anxiety.
I’ve learned that until you’re able to find a way to feel calm and grounded, it’s impossible to commit to your goals. You need practical mind-body strategies for reducing stress at the moment and overall, no yoga pants are required.
As I tell my coaching clients, the first step to reaching your goals is to start with a calm and stable foundation. Meditation is amazing, but it’s too challenging for most beginners, I know, I was one of them.
And yet when the covid lockdown hit last year, I felt the same stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed that my coaching clients experienced. I knew that until I could find a way to manage my anxiety, I would stay trapped in my spinning thoughts.
I had been planning to write a book and relaunch my coaching business to focus on helping women to show up more powerfully in their next chapter, but I couldn’t focus.
Instead, I began second-guessing myself. Everything I thought I knew was suddenly up for grabs.
I let the noise and confusion of the moment distract me from facing the real challenge; my looming self-doubt in the face of change. The same self-doubt I’d helped so many clients overcome. When I couldn’t be my own support system, I found myself searching for a lifeline. I wanted a way to access the benefits of mindfulness without sitting in a lotus pose trying to keep my thoughts at bay.
This is where breathing practices come in. Most of us habitually breathe more quickly and less deeply than is good for us. This leads to a shortage of oxygen and energy that contributes to a faster heart rate, higher blood pressure, and elevated stress.
According to the American Lung Association, the most effective way to manage your oxygen level is by breathing through the nose and by bringing the air all the way down toward the belly. As the diaphragm contracts, the belly expands to fill the lungs with air. Diaphragmatic, or “belly breathing” pulls the lungs downward, creating negative pressure inside the chest to more efficiently bring air into the lungs.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a proven practice for activating your relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, and lowering your stress level in the moment and beyond. A 2017 study notes that diaphragmatic breathing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, keeping that grounded feeling going long after the exercise is done.
Breathing practices are an approachable alternative to meditation, no yoga pants are required! Rather than waiting until you have an hour to meditate, do something every day even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes.
I know for sure mindfulness and meditation work, as proven by thousands of studies, but I also know this is too hard a first step for most people.
This is why I’m so excited to share the baby steps it takes to break free from the stress cycle that keeps us stuck. I’ve taught dozens of clients the mind-body strategies that pave the way for anxiety reduction and with it the clarity and motivation to take action.
It’s been so rewarding to see even a short daily commitment to these simple techniques take place within 8 weeks of practice. Clients are able to focus on the present instead of feeling too overwhelmed to know where to start, they’re able to prioritize in a way that tracks their goals, instead of getting swept up in the moment. And most importantly, they’re able to let go of the anxious and negative thought patterns that make life less enjoyable.
Click here to learn more about the next Breathe Into Breakthrough free online workshop. Commit 10 minutes, 10 days to less stress and greater focus, you deserve it!
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