Millennials & Stress
According to a survey by the American Psychology Association, Millennials are the most stressed-out of all current living generations.
Time to bust out those stress-relievers, peeps.
One of the most reliable stress-relieving tools in my toolbox is meditation. It’s come in most handy when chaos was abound and my mind craved stillness. You know how you can tell when you’re thirsty and you need to drink water? Well, just like that, I can tell when I need calm and introspection.
You could call it an introverted superpower (which I wouldn’t mind), but I believe it’s beneficial to all to have a bit of “slow down” time. Even those living on the constant fast lane will note that slowing down every once in a while makes going fast feel even better.
What can meditation do for you? A whole lot. Though I haven’t had a regular meditation practice in years, I can attest to the feeling of calm and relief that can accompany even a minute of meditation. Some visualization meditations can also be very powerful and liberating, helping to release and transform mental “junk” in minutes. One meditation had me on my knees, crying, realizing how poorly I’d been treating myself (and expecting others to treat me better than I was treating myself!). If you’ve never tried meditating, I encourage you to try the simple meditation below. It’s my go-to.
Find a quiet, comfortable place. Sit down and close your eyes (you can also lay down, but I find sitting meditations to be more relaxing). Take long, slow, deep breaths. Take your time with your breathing. Feel your lungs fill up slowly with air. Pay attention to the gentle moving of your chest as your lungs fill with air, and then release the air.
Let your thoughts stray, as you note how the rest of your body is feeling. Your face, your hands, your chest, your legs. How do they feel as you continue to take long, slow, deep breathe?
Notice any sensations, like tingling.
If your thoughts stray away from your breathing and body, no problem. All is well, as long as you’re relaxing. If our thoughts get too chaotic, gently bring them back to your long, slow, deep breathing and your bodily sensations. You can meditate using the above for any amount of time that works for you. Even a few deep breaths will make a difference in how your body is feeling. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, the difference will be even more palpable. If you’re nervous about trying meditation, give yourself permission to go at your own pace. The point is to give yourself tools to deal better with stress, to more easily and purposefully direct your life. In the time I didn’t use meditation regularly, I turned to other nifty avenues that changed a LOT in my life and are now part of my toolbox.
In future articles, I’ll explore some more of these tools, including a visualization meditation or two. They’re fun to play around with once you get comfortable with them. No joke: I had my mom meditate on Hilary Clinton last week, to focus on the feeling of a powerful woman. She loved it.
If you’re prone to anxiety, know that there’s hope. My toolbox has helped turn regular anxiety into occasional anxiety spikes, which are also becoming a thing of the past.
Have any tools or meditations you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below!