When I finally shared my anxiety disorder with everyone, I got a lot of advice. While I was grateful for each of your messages, I found myself doubting that any of those things would actually help me. Because, well… I suffer from anxiety. Worrying and feeling doomed is kinda my thing. Sleep more, eat less, do more exercise, find a new hobby… everyone had a suggestion. What I found most interesting is that there was one recommendation that was repeatedly suggested. It was meditation.
For me, meditation was something that people did with their legs folded in awkward positions, on the floor of their dedicated quiet room with a fancy robe and incense burning nearby. It’s no surprise that I’m a Mom of three, so I don’t have a quiet space in my home. Believe me, I’ve tried to find one. I also don’t have a fancy robe and haven’t burned incense since I was in college. So I couldn’t imagine that meditation was for me.
Having so many people suggesting meditation to me just seemed pointless. Where was I going to find complete silence in my crazy house? It was laughable. But something told me to do some research. That many of you couldn’t be wrong.
According to Wikipedia, meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Ok, sounds pretty doable. No mention of robes or incense.
Let the Research Begin
The more I researched, the more I was finding that an app would be my best bet. So I asked around and finally decided to give Calm a try. Calm is the #1 app for meditation and mindfulness. They offer 100+ guided meditations to help you manage anxiety, lower stress and sleep better. Calm is the perfect mindfulness app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users.
My family bought me some noise cancelling headphones and I downloaded the app. That night, just before bed, I turned on my first meditation session. Tamara Levitt, the Head of Mindfulness at Calm is also the voice on the app. She has such a soothing voice and she instantly put me at ease. Not only did it finally calm me down (my heartbeat is crazy fast around bedtime), but I fell asleep before the 20 minute session had even finished. When I woke up, I was less of a sceptic. Maybe you all were onto something.
Over the next week, I added a morning meditation session into my day. As soon as the kids were dropped off at school, I put on my headphones and tried the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety series. I was finding that every one of those sessions was changing my mindset.
I Call it the What If’s
I suffer with something I like to call the “what if’s”. Before I go anywhere, I think of all of the catastrophes that can happen on the way, during and on the way back. I literally make myself crazy over what might happen, so no matter where we are, or how much fun we are supposed to be having, I’m too busy watching over my shoulder to make sure everything is safe and none of my crazy scenarios come true. Ridiculous, I know. It’s part of needing to be in control, which is something people with anxiety need.
On one of the sessions, Tamara spoke about this exact issue and talked through how we can acknowledge our thoughts and then watch them pass by like a cloud. It sounded a little too good to be true, but I wasn’t ruling anything out.
I was scheduled to go on a cruise that week and my anxiety level was at an all time high. I imagined just about everything that could go wrong. But once I listened to that Calm session, it was like something in my brain clicked. I stopped thinking of all that could go wrong and started getting excited about everything that could go right.
When I got anxious on the cruise, I went back to the room, meditated and got right back into the fun. I walked off of that ship a new person. I have meditated every day (sometimes multiple times a day) since and I haven’t seen a glimmer of anxiety.
Now, while I won’t tell you that it’s cured me, because I’m not sure that’s really possible, I can tell you that when I’m feeling most anxious or my heartbeat is a little faster than I’d like it to be, I pull out my headphones, turn on the calm app and I calm down. I feel better. Much better, actually. It’s a great distraction for me. It causes me to stop, breathe and relax. And when you are calm, there is no place for that anxiety to rear it’s ugly little head.
The app has a session for almost anything you may be going through. You just scroll through, find what you’re struggling with and listen. It’s incredible. If you’re struggling with anxiety, or just overwhelmed as most of us are these days, consider giving it a try. Calm does offer a trial period. If you love it, you can upgrade it to the full year. It took me only one session to decide that it was worth it. I haven’t regretted it one bit.