This blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional therapy.
Have you ever had the blues, felt blah and uninterested in things you usually enjoyed, or felt uncomfortably anxious? Lots of people feel these things, yet our culture teaches us that we should hide behind the “I’m fine” scenario, and we are left to figure it out ourselves.
In 2015, 16.1 million Americans had had a depressive episode that year, or about 6% of the adult population. Another 1% of adults experience persistent low-grade depression, 18.1% of adults experience anxiety disorders, and 2.6% experience bipolar disorder. Add it up! That’s almost one out of 3 of us who struggle with mood or anxiety, so what do we do about it?
Many people don’t know what to do. Some of us are fearful of therapy or the stigma of therapy and do our best with help from our friends. Only a third of the population ask for professional help. If you struggle with any of these issues, please seek professional help. If you choose to try some of the ideas set forth in this blog, good for you! Remember it’s your choice and is more like a self-help book, than actual treatment. I encourage you to take responsibility for the results of your work!
In this blog, I’ve talked about a number of research-based methods to help manage mood and anxiety. Meditation is remarkably effective at helping. Research has found that meditation has a direct impact on the brain, improving mood, calming anxiety and spreading out the space between bipolar episodes.
If you’ve never meditated before or have tried and think it’s difficult, I encourage you to reconsider. Think of meditation as a journey, rather than a destination. If you can accept that, then you won’t hold a bunch of unrealistic expectations about meditation. “I’m going to get in an alpha state” or “I’m going to be so calm” may be long term goals but they are probably unrealistic short-term goals. It is, however, realistic to think “I’m doing something to take care of myself and help my brain function better.”
I you want to start meditating, the first thing to think of is a quiet space in your day. Many people start with night time, because they’re going to lay down quietly anyway! Personally, I don’t think it matters when you meditate, only that you do meditate. I encourage people to set a goal to meditate once a week for 2-3 minutes. More often is always optional, but I encourage people to set an easily achievable goal. This gives you something to feel good about!
There are many free meditations available on youtube, but I recommend googling UCLA MARC as they offer meditation podcasts ranging from 3 minutes to 26 minutes while teaching standardized meditation practices. These are a good place to start!
Good Luck! Please like this blog, share it with your friends, follow us, and leave comments. What would you like me to write more about? I look forward to hearing from you!