Part 2: 4 Meditation Practices to Calm Anxious Thoughts

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy. Perhaps you often struggle with anxious thoughts that bring you down. You might find yourself living with chronic stress, unable to shake the feeling that something is about to go wrong. Or you may talk yourself out of doing things you want to try because you’re afraid you’ll make mistakes. Maybe you’ve even held yourself back from big opportunities simply because you were worried that you weren’t ready.

If you’re living with anxiety, you need to develop healthy coping mechanisms in order to soothe your nervous thoughts and shift into a more positive perspective. Meditation can help with this. Some meditation techniques, in particular, are especially effective for people with anxiety. Here are a few tried and true meditation approaches that can help you calm your anxious thoughts.

1. Full Body Breath Scan

Anxiety is often stored in the body. Yes, you might be distracted by your anxious thoughts—but chances are, your body is holding on to tension. That’s why you can incorporate a body scan into meditation. To begin your full body breath scan, you will slowly breathe in. As you do, you’ll take the time to notice any areas of your body where you might feel tense or stiff. Start with your toes, and then work all the way up to the top of your head.

When you realize that a certain area feels tense, make a conscious effort to relax those muscles. You can even clench up a muscle first and then slowly relax it if that feels more effective for you. Feel free to do as many full-body breath scans as you like! This can also be a great way to start or end a yoga practice.

2. Observe Your Thoughts

Many people assume that meditation is about completely clearing your mind of any thoughts. But this isn’t necessarily true. While you might have moments during meditation when you feel like your mind is truly blank, the real objective is to simply notice your thoughts without getting attached to them. You can try a traditional meditation practice with this philosophy. Just sit still with your eyes closed, breathe slowly and deeply, and notice which thoughts enter your mind. Observe them, and then let them go. You’ll begin to separate your sense of self from your thoughts.

3. Walking Meditation

What if sitting still in meditation doesn’t seem to work for you? Maybe you feel restless, or maybe it’s tough to find a quiet space to meditate in your home. Walking meditation is also an option! Find a place in your neighborhood where you can go for a long stroll without being exposed to too much noise or traffic. You may want to put in your headphones and listen to a guided meditation so that your attention doesn’t wander too much. Then, just see where your feet take you.

4. Deep Belly Breathing

Anxiety can cause you to take shallow, quick breaths, and you may not even realize how it affects your mood and how you physically feel. Sometimes, taking a big, deep breath is enough to calm you down momentarily. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, pause for a moment, and take a deep belly breath. Your belly should expand outward when you inhale. If it doesn’t, take a moment to relax your stomach muscles. You can even envision your lungs (and belly) filling up like a balloon, and then as you exhale, imagine yourself letting all of the air out. As you do, you’ll probably feel like you’re letting go of your anxious thoughts, too.

Are you interested in learning meditation and mindfulness techniques for anxiety? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling a session for anxiety therapy for women.