During university, it was often quite easy for me to lose track of myself, because of the continuous heavy University and/or work-related tasks that I needed to complete to for a certain deadline.
My second year at university really overwhelmed me, to say the least. I found myself juggling so many tasks to the point of mental and physical exhaustion all leading to uncontrollable anxiety.
There were times when I felt like there was no point fighting the aggressive anxiety (leading to panic attacks) that developed over the year because it felt way stronger than I was. But with help from my family, friends and of course, my loving boyfriend it started to subside and when it did come back angrier than ever, I’d use it as a motivation to finish off a task. (Take that anxiety!)
Once exams were over, it was strange but my anxiety never left. For the past month, I’ve been battling it by opening up about it to the lovely people around me like before.
I wanted to try new ways to help myself because I felt bad relying so much on calling and messaging people at 3 am in the morning and I really wanted it to not have such a big impact on my life.
One conscious breath in and out is a meditation
– Eckhart Tolle
I started researching self-help methods to reduce anxiety and meditation was one of the first things up there.
Initially, I was sceptical. As my friends have described me before: I’m a real life Monica – who cannot relax no matter what; asking me to spend a few minutes of meditation a day to help “calm” my constantly intense ticking mind sounded so difficult that I almost just abolished the whole idea.
But as I researched further, I found I could do it at home, by myself and with the help of an app. Mimi Ikonn recommended the app Headspace. Take 10 is a meditation session that lasts only 10 minutes for 10 days. I decided to give it a try.
From the first morning, I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised by how listening to a person (with an extremely calm voice) could take all the muddled worries in my thoughts, put them in line and ease the restlessness I felt that night.
One of the most important questions that are asked at the end each session, “Do you feel different to how you did before you started?”
Yes. I felt calmer, more in the balance of my thoughts after each session.
I tweeted about it each day for 10 days. Tiny May told me about another mediation app called Calm. Feeling more open-minded about trying to really learn about mediation, I downloaded the app and participated in the 7 days introductory meditation.
Calm is a little different to Headspace as you can actually listen to “calming” sounds like an open ocean or rain on leaves. But similar in that there is a voice that helps guide your thoughts to focus on breathing. I really enjoyed the sounds available on the app, it put me to sleep almost instantly when I had it on at night and I didn’t wake up at unreasonable hours of the day.
I like both apps a lot but I found Calm easier to follow because it was much easier to focus due to the calming background noise and I just preferred the “meditation style.”
Benefits of Mediation
In summary, mediation has helped me by:
- Allowing me to take a break from a hectic day making me more efficient after
- Reducing anxiety, therefore, reducing panic attacks
- Reducing stress levels
- Kept me more focused on everyday tasks
- Taught me about what it means to be mindful and aware
I did meditation every morning. Initially doing it for 10 minutes but gradually increasing it to 20 minutes, I really enjoy it and will most likely extend this time as I progress further.
Below is a really great video by Calm that summarises mediation for me so far and the benefits of them.
Whenever I feel anxious throughout the day or in the middle of the night, I take a second to breathe, to calm myself down using techniques I learnt practising meditation and then in my own time resume what I was doing or slowly drift back to sleep.
I still have a lot to learn, but just like going to the gym (but this time, brain gym?), I’m determined to see results by being constant.
In the busy, the more disconnected world we live in, anxiety is bound to creep up in your life. Sometimes we need that little breather (or our own Baymax) – give mediation a try!
Have you tried meditation before? What are your thoughts on mediation?