Let me be clear, if you are someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety, I am not suggesting that you give up your medication and therapy in favor of prayer and meditation. As a social service worker and Certified Life Coach, I have seen the wonderous benefits my clients experience when adding prayer and meditation to their traditional treatment plans. So, I am asking you to be open as you read today’s post because maybe adding prayer and meditation could be an extra dose of protection to successfully manage your anxiety.
Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States? About 40 million Americans have been diagnosed with anxiety. The U.S. spends as much as $42 billion on the American government to diagnose and treat anxiety disorders. It is expected, especially in today’s world of political and social unrest, to feel anxious from time to time. But if your anxiety becomes overwhelming, and you want to add some realistic strategies to your prescription medication and therapy regime, one technique you may wish to try is prayer and meditation.
From personal experience, I can tell you that adding both to my daily self-care routine has helped me get a handle on my anxiety and panic attacks in a way that I never thought possible. But you might be asking which one should you try or should you use both.
Which is Better: Prayer or Meditation?
The answer very is simple: Use whichever you prefer. Some people have a close relationship with a higher power, while others do not. No matter what your religious belief, you can manage your anxiety through your thoughts and affirmations.
If you like to pray, that is great. If you want to meditate instead, then do it! I like to pray and then meditate on the scripture that is included in my morning devotional. But you can choose Whichever technique makes you feel the most comfortable. Taking your mental health seriously is the first step to healing and finding the right combination of therapeutic treatments. Remember, this is about you getting better, and you know best what will make you feel at ease.
You do not need any fancy equipment to get started. As a matter of fact, you can start right now with a deep breath. Pull the air deep down into your diaphragm and let it out slowly. Do this deep breathing technique several times, and you will begin to feel calmer.
My students look strange when I ask them if they are breathing effectively? Because if not, then you are only taking in enough air to expand the top part of your lungs expands; you may think this is okay because your chest rises and falls. However, when you use the breath as a calming tool- your whole belly rises and falls, not just your upper chest because your entire lungs are being filled with fresh air.
Before your anxiety begins to overwhelm, all your senses try practicing deep breathing as part of your own self-care routine. The more you do it, the more it will become an automatic coping strategy that helps you manage anxiety and any other part of your life that needs an adjustment.
Here are some other tips to help you feel calm while praying or meditating:
Use a mantra. Inhale while you give yourself positive thoughts and feelings. Exhale anything negatives you are thinking or feeling. Breathing is the rhythm of life. Use it to your advantage. My favorite mantra is I am Strong! I say this because I felt like life was happening to me for so many years, and I had no control. Now I know that is not true.
String together three scriptures: I call this a string prayer. I string together three of my favorite scriptures, and I pray them each morning. I also use these scriptures as part of my mantra when I meditate.
Make it part of your self-care routine: To really reap the benefits to pray or meditate at the same time each day. Try practice when you are not in crisis. Here is a challenge for you, decide when you will do and write it on the calendar at the same time for the next 30 days. It does not have to take a long time; try two minutes each day to start and add more time when you feel comfortable.
Laugh More. This was a hard one for me; I used my smile to hide what I was really thinking and feeling for years. But now I use it to make myself feel better after a long hard day. Try saying “ho, ho, ho, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha” and other silly phrases out loud. When you do, you will start to smile, then grin, and then laugh for real! And when you are laughing, it hard to frown or feel anxious!
Get an accountability buddy: I think this is the best way to ensure success. Your accountability buddy will help you to keep going when you want to quit. You can join a church, take up yoga, or find a support group for anxiety. You are not alone; other people share your struggle; besides helping yourself, you could help someone else struggling with anxiety; think of it this way, someone needs a friend, and they are waiting for you.
Now It is Your Turn!
As with any step towards personal peace, the first thing you must do is just start. Do not wait for perfect conditions because they will never come. Something or someone will always pop up in your life to still your joy. One thing to avoid when you start your prayer and/or meditation practice is the notion that you will be able to conquer it in a week. Be patient with yourself and show yourself some compassion. It took time to get where you are, and it will take time to get back to where you want to be.
Do not forget to speak with your therapist or coach and let them know that you have started this journey; they will be more than happy to support you and provide you with helpful feedback as you work to strengthen your breathing. Laugh. Meditate or pray routine. The greatest gift you can give yourself is joy, which is a gift worth waiting for.
With Peace and Love,
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