A crash course in meditation against anxiety and depression in ME / CFS
Meditation has been used for centuries to promote both mental and spiritual health – two things that can help you on your path to recovery from chronic illnesses like ME / CFS and others. Meditation for depression and anxiety has emerged as a therapeutic tool to relieve and treat mental symptoms as well as symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. It includes breathing exercises that are designed to help slow your thinking, including your body. The practice itself is known to produce many positive psychological, mental, and physical effects, including slowing the respiratory rate, lowering blood pressure, improving and minimizing immune function Sleep disorders.
“Physically, meditation improves cardiovascular health, strengthens immunity, relieves pain, and has endocrine effects. Mentally, meditation practice affects neuroplasticity by creating increased brain activity in areas of the brain associated with higher-level thinking and positive emotions and decreasing activity in the areas of the brain associated with negative emotions and self-talk, “said Diane Malaspina, Ph .D., Psychologist and Therapeutic Specialist of Yoga medicine.
And studies increasingly show that people who exercise regularly, Mindfulness Meditation, a practice that promotes self-awareness, shows that generalized anxiety and other anxiety, as well as depression, are greatly reduced.
Today, more and more therapists and psychiatrists are realizing the vast benefits this ancient practice can offer their patients and are starting to take advantage of them. Meditation can be extremely calming because you can just sit to yourself and be silent.
“Meditation can help calm the mind from the constant negative self-talk that is often a core component of anxiety and depression. Meditation also allows for better concentration on upcoming tasks, which is often difficult due to the distracting thoughts of fear or the loss of interest associated with depression, ”said psychotherapist Siobhan D. Flowers, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CSC. Additionally, people with cognitive impairments related to ME / CFS may find that it is difficult to focus even for long periods of time.
Like Dr. Malaspina and Dr. Flowers, many therapists incorporate meditation into their sessions with their patients. This can include breathing exercises during an appointment as well as guided visualizations. However, if you’re struggling with fatigue or other debilitating symptoms, going to a therapist’s office can be difficult, so we’ve put together some basics to get you started.
How to meditate when you are just starting out
Learning to meditate is as easy as 1-2-3! You can do it anywhere, anytime of the day. It can help calm your mind from the barrage of symptoms you may be experiencing and focus on what is right in front of you. If you are just starting to address depression and anxiety in ME / CFS, Dr. Malaspina given the following tips:
- Just start by making a goal of three minutes of quiet sitting every day.
- Use a timer.
- During the three minutes, focus your attention on your breath.
- When your mind wanders, focus your thoughts on your breath.
For anxiety, Dr. Malaspina a meditation focused on one point. Here the participant uses an object to focus and integrates meditative breathing into it. Dr. Malaspina suggests using a candle because it helps focus an overactive mind and that nervous system.
- Sit about three feet from the flame, then gaze gently at it for a short time.
- When thoughts arise, you can bring awareness back to the flame.
In addition, Dr. Flowers how important it is to be consistent with a meditation practice, even if it’s only five minutes a day. She also advised:
- Patience with yourself is key. Remember that calming your body and mind takes practice.
- Try not to be confident or to be afraid of “not getting it right”.
“Remind yourself that no matter what form of meditation you choose, it is always better to take the time to focus on yourself,” said Dr. Flowers.
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Different types of meditation
Each meditation typically involves aspects of focusing on your breath, which allows you to slow down and focus on the here and now. Over time, the meditation practice helps to strengthen your body awareness without consuming a lot of precious energy. Read on to learn more about the different types.
The word mantra can be translated as “transport” or “vehicle”. Mantras are usually a word or short phrase that is repeated to help the body relax and move you into a deeper state of meditation. It can be said both out loud and to yourself and can be used to boost positive self-talk, self-esteem, and more. “I like mantra meditation for coping with depression because it is the use of a positive or loving statement that is mentally repeated, which is helpful for negative self-talk,” said Dr. Malaspina.
For those who can tolerate a certain amount of physical activity, this type of meditation often consists of exercise and meditation such as yoga, tai chi, walking, or running. Anything that requires movement and allows you to “step into the zone” and focus on the task at hand offers the same benefits as more traditional meditation.
Guided meditation is a practice in which participants meditate under the supervision of a trained practitioner – usually one who uses a combination of written, visual, and musical accompaniment through verbal guidance. In guided meditation, the teacher will guide participants in a specific visual exercise that leads to deep breathing and other components. The goal of guided meditation is to reduce stress and focus on mental, emotionallyor physical healing.
There are numerous meditation podcasts to choose from, offering both guided meditation and other breathing exercises, but here are a few to watch:
- Meditation minis with Chel Hamilton: The trained hypnotist Chel Hamilton offers you a relaxing 10-15 meditation on specific topics. It’s ideal for on the go or wherever you feel the need to indulge in a moment of calm. There are also specific themes that the podcast features, and there are both paid and free versions.
Dr. Flowers recommended the following meditation apps and podcasts:
- Quiet: There is a paid and free version and offers both video and audio meditation, as well as other courses for people with anxiety, depression, and more.
- Headspace: This is a meditation and sleep app that will help you breathe, meditate, and learn the basics. You can also choose from advanced options. It’s available by subscription for $ 12.99 per month, but it has thousands of meditation options and usually comes with a free trial.
- Insight timer: This free app is an amazing resource that features thousands of guided meditations and lectures by experts in the field as well as psychologists, scientists and more.
Meditation offers a wide range of positive physical and mental benefits for those dealing with anxiety, depression, and ME / CFS. While you may feel a little weird at first, the more you do it, the more natural it will become over time. It can help you become more mindful, working on being in the moment, and improving your attitude, among many other great benefits. Although it has the significant effects of anxiety and depression, the long-term use of meditation practice can help you to better cope with the challenges that come your way.