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Recently I’ve been looking for ways to help me handle my mental health on days when it’s poor. I’m keen to find something that will help me calm my anxiety when it is at it’s worst and find more focus, both for work and in life in general. One approach that I’ve been considering for ages, but never actually tried, is meditation. The health benefits are spoken about often by medical professionals and self care enthusiasts alike. I had to try it for myself.
Trying Meditation for Mental Health
Meditation is something I’ve been putting off trying for a long time now. It is talked about constantly now and seems to be the magical cure all for mental health. It made no sense to me that in the midst of my worst day, sitting down, crossing my legs and clearing my thoughts would ever work.
When trying to explain my brain to someone else, I tell them that it constantly feels like I have fifty tabs open. Clear my thoughts? That feels impossible when I’m worrying about so many things at once! Then recently, someone said something that set off a light bulb in my head and made me realise that I’d been looking at meditation all wrong.
What do you do when someone tells you NOT to think of a pink elephant? The biggest, pinkest elephant appears right in the middle of your head. The same could be said for the millions of thoughts running through my brain every minute of the day. They don’t go away, they just get worse.
This clicked with me immediately. I can’t get rid of all this stuff in my head, it’s impossible. What I could do however, was sit quietly and try to address it. I began to see meditation as more of an opportunity and it was then that I came up with my own way of “clearing my thoughts”.
Sit quietly and just breathe for a second. Then see what comes to mind. Don’t find it and try and force a thought, just see what comes up. If it’s something happy, just enjoy the thought. Take time to be grateful for it and appreciate the joy it’s bringing me.
If it’s something negative then it’s time to deal with it. I let the thought process and then confront it. Say it’s about a bad memory I have with a person. I remember the moment fully, try and address exactly what it was about that memory that made me feel down or anxious or upset. Then I recognise that it’s in the past. I ask myself if there’s anything further I can do to help improve the situation.
Having given the thought my full attention I imagine myself sort of rolling it up in a ball and placing it away on a shelf. I don’t try and banish the thought, I just recognise that it has now been dealt with. I breathe for a little longer and then open my eyes. I always feel far lighter, even if I’ve only addressed something very small.
This is obviously an approach to meditation that I’ve made up for myself and different things work for different people. Also, I am in absolutely no way an expert on meditation at all. I just want to encourage you to give it a go if you’ve been curious before. Maybe just begin by sitting quietly. That alone might make a huge difference for you and your mental health.