For those of you who have been practicing meditation for quite some time, you should be able to know confidently that meditation is a very good and efficient tool to calm your mind. And it is not surprising to hear that meditation can help anxiety, at least to some degree. In this blog post, we will take a deeper look at whether that is true and we will also look at some related interesting things about this topic. Let’s dive in now.
What Exactly is Anxiety?
By definition, anxiety is the feeling of nervousness or worry about things that you are not certain about. Some examples are being afraid to go to work or being worried about talking to your co-workers.
Stress Vs. Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are words that are often used interchangeably while they are two similar yet different things. The main difference is that stress is usually considered as a short term feeling of concern and it usually disappears whether quickly especially when the trigger is gone. Anxiety usually stays longer and it can still last even when the trigger is solved and gone.
Some Common Triggers of Anxiety
There are many things that can trigger anxiety and it is different from everyone. Meanwhile, there are some common triggers that happens a lot and many people are victims of them. I want to list them out here so you want that you are not the only one if you do have a tendency of having those triggers.
Trigger 1: Meeting or Talking to New People
Meeting new people doesn’t only apply to parties and events, the worst situation is actually work. Do you still remember what it feels like when you are on the first day of your current job. I bet that you are nervous, very nervous, just like everybody else. If I tell you that you only have to face the computer the entire day when you first go to work, I bet that you wouldn’t be as nervous. A lot of people are afraid, or at least not comfortable, talking and interacting with people they don’t know. For some people, the fear gets so large that it becomes anxiety. For some people that suffers this so-called social anxiety, it drains their energy to go to work and interact with co-workers unless they really become friends. In a company, especially in one that is bigger than a small team, dealing with people is almost always more difficult than dealing with products.
Trigger 2: Relationship & Dating
If you observe carefully, you will tend to see that dating and relationship causes usually causes men to be nervous in little and silly ways which don’t cause anxiety. While it can cause women to be have anxiety, especially in the case of women over mid 30s. Although everyone seems to fight for gender equality these days, men and women are different even if they are treated fairly. There is nothing that can change the physical difference between the two genders. Women can rarely escape the invisible pressure of being too old to have babies. The thought will likely start to kick in when a single woman reaches mid 30s or even early 30s. It is not difficult to understand why a 35-year-old woman would react much more intensely than a 35-year-old man would on something bad happen to a relationship like a break-up. You can imagine how a woman with a busy job and with a poor relationship would have anxiety problem.
Trigger 3: School Performance
Stress that is caused by the fear of having bad school performance is something that most students have experienced. When the stress goes to strong and lasts for too long, that becomes anxiety that causes you to feel worried and lose your sleep. When someone may argue that a little of pressure can be motivation, there is no way to argue that it is good thing when the pressure turns into anxiety that causes potential health issues.
Trigger 4: Work Performance
The worry of doing bad at work actually don’t only apply to those that has high ambition, it applies to the people that are average and being afraid to lose their jobs too. There are a lot of industries that causes especially high stress, including working as doctors, sales and programmers.
Does Meditation Help Reduce Anxiety?
For those of you who have anxiety, it is recommended for you to go talk to your doctor to have a professional estimated the severity. Yet, generally speaking, meditation does help reduce anxiety and it is not difficult to understand the reason. You can look at it this way. Anxiety is caused by consistent stress and stress is caused by seeing problems larger than they are. Stress can also be caused by the difference between the result and the expectation. In other words, one of the root causes of anxiety is the inability to see the reality. As mentioned, meditation is a tool that help clear your mind and having a clear mind help you see the reality more clearly.
Examples of How Meditation Help Anxiety
Let’s assume that I have anxiety problem that is due to the fear caused by having to talk to my coworkers every single day. How does meditation fix that? First, without meditation and with a busy word life, there is no way to calm down and see the problem no bigger than it should be. Now, after say a 10-minute morning meditation, I can have a very clear internal talk in my mind. The conversation should go something like this. “Talking to my co-workers shouldn’t induce any fear. They would even react positively or negatively. If they react positively, great. If negatively, that’s fine too as I have no control of what they would do.” For those of you who have heard about the ancient philosophy Stocism, you should realize that there is a lot of relationship between meditation and Stocism. Meditation makes you life clear. Having a clear mind let you analyze your problem with Stocism, a philosophy that emphasizes understanding what you can control and what you cannot not. For things that we can’t control, we shouldn’t worry about it.