I just graduated from college, so needless to say, I’ve been an anxious wreck. I grew up in sunny Los Angeles, and post-graduation decided to forgo amazing weather for the hustle and bustle of New York City.
I had all the ingredients ready to make the best anxiety casserole ever. Starting a new chapter of life? CHECK! New city? CHECK! New home? CHECK! New job? CHECK! Long distance relationship? CHECK!!!!
With all of those factors at play, I wanted time to stand still, but life goes on, and I had to too. I had trouble going to sleep every night, and then I’d wake up in the morning after a horrible night’s sleep feeling like absolute hell. I felt like I hadn’t even slept, I felt nauseous, and I felt defeated. I was afraid to make social plans, leave my apartment, my room, my bed. I lost weight (not in a good way), I pushed friends and family away, and I cried all the time.
I’m not secretive about the fact that I struggle with anxiety and depression. I hope that by speaking openly about my own experiences, others can become more accepting of themselves and their situations. Depression and anxiety aren’t disadvantages, they’re just part of me, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I take medication, which helps, but it took more than that to truly feel like me again. That’s where meditation came in.
It can be difficult to get into the habit of meditating daily, but it’s worth it. At the beginning, I set a calendar reminder to meditate at the same time everyday so that I had to stick with it. Of course I’d miss a day here-and-there, but it’s all a part of the experience. Now, I wouldn’t want to go a day without it.
I try to take at least 10 minutes every day to meditate, usually before I go to sleep, which used to be when I had the most anxiety (which, as a reference point, was a ton). I either use an app, Simple Habit is my personal favorite, with earbuds in to help me stay focused, or I go somewhere quiet, close my eyes, and focus on my breath.
Taking that time to ignore the sounds coming from both inside and outside is life-changing. I’d recommend meditation to anyone suffering with anxiety and/or depression (also literally anyone else) because unlike most “fads” and “tips & tricks” this one WORKS!! What a miracle!!
It took me a couple of weeks to be able to practice my breathing without guidance, but the immediate calming effect of meditating, even the first time you try it, is amazing. Not everyone will pick it up on their first try, but it’s worth making the effort.
My anxiety and depression are not cured, and they never will be. It’s a life-long battle that will only make me stronger (thanks, Kelly Clarkson!). But the ability to stop an anxiety attack in its tracks, the ability to find my center, the ability to ignore negative thoughts about my body, my abilities, my everything; they’re all invaluable.
Originally published at medium.com