Anxiety hack 3 — Pranayama and meditation

August 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

I was in a state of semi wakefulness around 5:45 a.m. this morning when I heard my son exclaim from the next room — he was having a dream. That woke me up fully and my wife had heard it too. We both got up to just check on him once, and while my wife is an early riser, I too decided not to go back to bed.

Our son was sleeping fine and we decided to make our respective mugs of coffee. Later, my wife sent me a link to a guided pranayama session that she’d been following for some time now. I decided to give it a try as well. As you may well know, there is evidence to show that pranayama, like yoka, reduces anxiety. See here and here for example.

It was a 15-minute guided session on YouTube and I found it quite relaxing. If you want to check it out, here’s the link to it: https://youtu.be/N2wR1OWhD4s

As I make my two-steps-forward-one-step-back (and sometimes three steps back) type of painfully incremental progress, getting out of my depression and managing and reducing my anxiety, I’ve been thinking more about the kinds of practices I can incorporate into my everyday routine that will help. So pranayama is another anxiety hack for me. I also wrote about cooking, and picking up a hobby.

Pranayama and meditation should probably be high on the list of activities to include in one’s daily routine for anyone, not just people with anxiety and depression. The benefits are significant and hard to ignore. But for me, I’m hoping pranayama and meditation will be a long-term alternative to taking medication. Along with walking, running, yoga and lifting weights.

A highly respected proponent of mindfulness meditation and its effect on stress and anxiety is Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose book Full Catastrophe Living helped me. I have it on my Kindle and keep going back to it. The book covers much of what Kabat-Zinn does in a stress reduction program he conducts and is a resource I would recommend to anyone dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.

Even people who mentally healthy can benefit from Kabat-Zinn’s book, by learning from the mindfulness practices and meditation he describes in it. Among the practices he describes are body scanning, sitting meditation, yoga and even walking meditation. I often try to empty my mind and focus on slow breathing, relaxing my belly, as I walk in the evenings every day. The walks, which my Endomondo app shows me I’ve been at for almost five months now, and have progressively increased to at least 90 minutes each day, have been really beneficial. Maybe that’s my next anxiety hack to write about.

#anxiety #depression #anxietyanddepression #pranayama #meditation

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