"John Tantillo, Ph.D. is a TV, Radio and Social Media Branding Expert with over 30 years experience in Behavioral Health Care Branding"

Meditation and your Mental Health

 

Let’s face it. Most of us lead very busy lives. We rush from one thing to the next and jump from responsibility to responsibility. With an “always on” work culture, social obligations, family responsibilities, and household chores, there never seems to be any downtime. Even when there is, many of us fill the space by sending text messages or scrolling through social media. Our mind is always being stimulated we never give ourselves time to just be. This has an inevitable  effect on our mental health, leading to stress, anxiety, and even burnout.

 

This is where meditation comes in. To some, meditation seems new age – beyond the “mainstream” 2020 lifestyle. But evidence now suggests that meditation plays a beneficial role in promoting positive mental health.

 

What is Meditation?

 

Meditation is a practice that helps you reach a level of awareness and focus that helps calm the mind and promotes relaxation. With all the discussion of meditation out there, it’s hard to figure out where to even begin.

 

One of the main forms of meditation you’ll hear about is mindfulness. This type of meditation focuses your awareness on the present. Research shows that it may even help control stress, anxiety, and depression. By living in the moment, mindfulness improves our mental well-being. 

 

If you’re new to meditation, this may be a good practice to start with.

 

How to Meditate

 

So how do you actually meditate? Find a comfortable place as few distractions as possible.  You can sit on a cushion, a chair or even the floor -- whatever works for you. Cross your legs if you wish. Sit as straight as possible.

 

Find somewhere calm. It can be hard to meditate with the TV on or if your roommate is on the phone. Maybe light a candle or dim the lights.

 

Start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. This can help focus your mind. Keep focusing on your breath and the present moment. If your mind wanders, which it will, simply acknowledge the thought and bring it back to the present. It can seem frustrating at first because our minds love to wander to our to-do lists, our plans for the weekend or what we’re making for dinner. That’s ok. It takes practice to quiet the mind.

 

Meditation is not easy. Consider using an app. You will find many options for meditation to guide you – some focusing on reducing stress and anxiety, some providing calming music, some focuses on a specific time of day. These meditations vary in length, so you can pick one that fits your schedule. Say you only have 5 minutes before you need to run out the door. Simply choose one of the 5 minute ones and save a 20 minute one for later.   Two popular apps are Headspace and Insight Timer.

 

There is no right time of day to meditate. Some people like to meditate in the morning; others prefer nighttime meditation so they can relax and have a good sleep.  Don’t try to do too much. Start out with sessions that last  just 5 to 10 minutes. As you practice, your meditations can go longer. In order to reap the benefits, consistency is important. Set aside some time every day for your meditation practice.

 

When it comes to our busy, always-on-the-go lifestyles, meditation is a great tool to manage  our emotions. While adding yet another thing to your daily routine may feel overwhelming, the positive effects on mental well-being could make it well worth it.

Meditation is not easy. Consider using an app. You will find many options for meditation to guide you – some focusing on reducing stress and anxiety, some providing calming music, some focuses on a specific time of day. These meditations vary in length, so you can pick one that fits your schedule. Say you only have 5 minutes before you need to run out the door. Simply choose one of the 5 minute ones and save a 20 minute one for later.   Two popular apps are Headspace and Insight Timer.

 

There is no right time of day to meditate. Some people like to meditate in the morning; others prefer nighttime meditation so they can relax and have a good sleep.  Don’t try to do too much. Start out with sessions that last  just 5 to 10 minutes. As you practice, your meditations can go longer. In order to reap the benefits, consistency is important. Set aside some time every day for your meditation practice.

 

When it comes to our busy, always-on-the-go lifestyles, meditation is a great tool to manage  our emotions. While adding yet another thing to your daily routine may feel overwhelming, the positive effects on mental well-being could make it well worth it.