I’m not relaxed when I’m relaxing. Sounds odd, I know, but hear me out. I feel like this is a really valuable lesson that could potentially help my wellbeing a lot now that I’m aware of it, so maybe it could help you, too.
Being a mental health blogger I hear lots of different tips and tricks for coping with mental illness, particularly now that #TalkMH has started. Also now that I’m doing therapy, my therapist gives suggestions as well. One of the things that kept cropping up was meditation. At first I was like what on earth is that? expecting it to be some kind of hypnotism or something, but now I can’t go to bed without it. It’s become part of my daily routine and has taught me the very valuable lesson that when I think I’m relaxing, a lot of the time I’m actually not relaxing at all. Of course, there are things that I can do to help me unwind, and I think that having ‘me-time’ is incredibly important, but relaxation means something totally different to me now.
When I’m watching TV or reading a book or writing a blog post, yes, they’re all things that I enjoy, but they’re not relaxing. I’m still thinking about the day I’ve had at work, what to have for dinner, or what post to write next. Even in the bath, something we typically perceive as being very relaxing, I’m still thinking about all sorts of crap. I guess I kind of assumed that because I was doing things that I enjoy and having ‘me-time’, it was relaxing. Now I have managed to distinguish a clear difference between relaxation and simply doing things that I enjoy. For me it’s about clearing space in my mind to prevent an overload of information and well, crap, that builds up over time causing (or worsening) stress and anxiety.
After many recommendations from others who suffer with anxiety, I downloaded the Calm app on my phone. Once I’d completed the initial 7 Days of Calm, I decided that I could now understand how this could potentially work, but I hadn’t given it enough time yet. I had a look at some of the other types of meditations available and spotted 7 Days of Calming Anxiety amongst many others that could help me out generally like 7 Days of Sleep, 7 Days of Managing Stress, 7 Days of Self-Esteem. I decided that I definitely wanted to give these a go so I paid for a subscription.
I got started on 7 Days of Calming Anxiety straight away and now that I’ve completed it, I have to say I’ve definitely noticed a difference! Particularly when it comes to getting to sleep and staying asleep. I don’t have time to meditate in the morning – I have trouble getting to work on time as it is – so I’ve always done it in the evening just before I go to sleep. I would definitely recommend doing this if you’re going to try it, I feel like I’m sleeping so much better since I started meditating. It’s such a good way of ’emptying’ my mind before I go to sleep with whatever has built up over the day, which then means that these things aren’t going around my head for weeks until I get to the point of a panic attack.
I really was dubious about it at first, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I never realised that relaxation could potentially be something we actually have to learn to do. We don’t do it as naturally as we think. That’s what I’ve learned, anyway.
Does anyone else practice meditation? What do you think of it – have you seen any benefits?