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Anxiety is our body’s way of saying, “Hey, I’m experiencing too much stress all at once.” This happens to the best of us. But when that feeling of being “always on alert” becomes background noise that doesn’t go away, that’s when it’s time to seek help. Mindfulness and meditation for anxiety is a growing field that can help you navigate the many ways that anxiety can affect your life. This guide is not meant to serve as a diagnosing tool or a treatment path—it’s simply a collection of research and practices you can turn to as you begin to help right your ship.

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Mindfulness helps you learn to stay with difficult feelings without analyzing, suppressing, or encouraging them. When you allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your worries, irritations, painful memories, and other difficult thoughts and emotions, this often helps them dissipate.

Anxiety can feel different for different people, but what’s true for everyone is that it can affect both the mind and the body in profound ways, especially when left unchecked. 

  • Excessive worry and/or rumination (what-ifs and worst-case scenarios playing on loop)
  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Lack of concentration and/or difficulty focusing 
  • Restlessness
  • A constant sense of fear or dread
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Feelings of guilt and/or shame
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Lack of enjoyment in the things you usually love

But there are physical effects, too. Anxiety can show up in the body in and or all of the following ways:

  • Racing heart or a fluttering sensation in your chest
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Shaking or trembling 
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty catching your breath 
  • Nausea or feeling sick
  • Pins and needles
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue or general tiredness
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep 

These are not imaginary symptoms, they’re very real and sometimes feel overwhelming. But here’s the silver lining: while anxiety is a normal part of our human experience, it doesn’t have to rule our lives. The goal here isn’t to stop anxiety entirely. Instead, it’s about empowering yourself with practical strategies to navigate through it.

Cue: meditation. Meditation is a powerful tool that can be used both proactively and reactively. So whether you need to soothe anxiety in the moment or are working on cultivating resilience and equanimity that’ll change your relationship with anxiety, there’s huge value in developing a regular meditation practice. 

How does meditation reduce anxiety?

A good way to think about how meditation works to reduce anxiety is to imagine you’re at a crowded party. Picture it: there’s loud music blaring, and people are shouting to be heard above the noise. It’s all a bit overwhelming. Meditation is like stepping out of the party onto a quiet balcony. You can still hear the noise in the background but the volume has been dialed down in such a way that you can actually hear yourself think. You feel immediately more grounded and relaxed.

Meditation is exactly like that. It’s stepping away from the hustle and bustle of our anxious thoughts and into a space of calm and clarity where we can respond effectively.