All people experience anxiety—for many, it’s an everyday thing. But few know how to deal with their anxiety in an effective way. Learning how to respond to anxiety is an essential part of your mental and emotional wellness. The Skylight app has hundreds of free spiritual exercises to help you deal with anxiety the right way. From yoga to meditations to visualization exercises, Skylight’s got something for everyone. The five free meditations reviewed in this post can help you decrease your anxiety.
First, we’ll talk about what anxiety is. Anxiety shows up in two ways at once: in your mind and in your body. Your mind perceives the threat and your body responds. In your mind, anxiety manifests itself in thoughts of dread, worry, or panic. It’s all-consuming. Anxiety also involves how your body responds to potential threats, right there in the middle of the fight-or-flight response. Humans have evolved to experience anxiety because it keeps us alive. Without it, we wouldn’t have the sense of urgency needed to escape a burning building or the adrenaline to run from a threat.
The issue is that where we used to feel anxiety every now and then, now we’re feeling it all the time. We’re feeling it when we aren’t in real danger, like when we’re stuck in traffic late for work or when we’re preparing for a final exam. And since we never give our bodies space to recharge and heal after the threat is gone, it can feel like we’re in a state of constant anxiety. We need to figure out how to decrease our anxiety levels. Spirituality is a useful tool:
“A lot of the time, anxiety sneaks up when you’d least expect it, like when you’re lying in bed at night, sitting down at work, or doing other typical daily tasks. It’s hard to stay present in those moments, and even harder to calm yourself down. There are easy distractions from anxious feelings—TV, food, and social media are pretty common—but the truth is that avoiding those feelings only tends to make things worse. Taking time out to meditate gives your anxiety the space to shrink and dissolve. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but it works.”
Now, there’s a difference between anxiety as an emotion and an anxiety disorder, which is a mental illness. Some examples of clinical anxiety are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Clinical anxiety must be handled differently than everyday anxiety. If you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the exercises in the next section are specifically for you. (Of course, you can benefit from the others as well!)
Meditations for Clinical Anxiety
We’ve linked two meditations for clinical anxiety here, both less than two minutes. The first contains some advice from a mindfulness trainer. In the second, you’ll find ten affirmations you can use to deal with your anxiety disorder. Both of these videos are short yet powerful, and giving them a watch will help you decrease your anxiety and deal with your disorder.
In this Q+A, mindfulness trainer Kelly Boys responds to the question: “What advice would you give for someone struggling with anxiety or depression?”
“The advice I'd give to someone that is struggling with anxiety or depression would be, first of all, self-compassion. Because it can be so easy to think that you're wrong when you're having a feeling that feels bad. So starting with being able to recognize that it's okay, your experience is okay. It seems like it's insurmountable, but when you turn towards what's hard, it often transforms. And so my other advice would be, let yourself, if you have the right care, and it's not overwhelming to you, turn towards what's hard. It has a gift for you.”
Sade Jones shares 10 self-love affirmations that have helped her stay calm and spiritually rooted while suffering from generalized anxiety disorder:
- I have the ability to overcome my anxiety.
- The feelings of panic are leaving my body.
- I can be at peace.
- I am free of anything that weighs me down.
- All is well in my world.
- I will get through this.
- I am in control.
- I am calming down.
- I give myself permission to feel how I feel without judgment.
- I open my soul to peace.
Keep reading for additional meditations for decreasing anxiety.
Meditations for Everyday Anxiety: Wisdom of No Escape
When you find yourself feeling anxious in your everyday life, open the Skylight app and try one of the spiritual exercises there. You’ll be surprised how much better you can feel in under five minutes! This three-minute video will help you find the Divine in your dark moments. It begins with some spiritual advice from Kelly Boys:
“So there's this phrase in mindfulness, it's called the wisdom of no escape. And it talks about how no matter how far away you try to get from your experience, you're always meeting yourself and your own presence and through this lens the presence of God or spirit as well.
We actually have no reason to escape from ourselves in the present moment because if we turn in and turn towards, what we find is that we're held or guided no matter where we are, no matter where we go, no matter who we find ourselves to be in any given moment. We can search everywhere, you know, the depths and the heights, and yet we always encounter spirit, the divine, we always encounter ourselves.
So what would it be like to look at the part of you that wants to escape your experience and to also welcome in the possibility that there's this divine guidance and holding that's here for you? It's the holding of your own presence. It's the holding of spirit. What would it be like to welcome both a desire to escape and a feeling of being held, knowing that both of these things are coming and going within your experience?”
You then have the chance to put this into practice with a short guided meditation for decreasing anxiety. Kelly asks a few simple questions to help you reflect on your emotions and find the presence of God in each moment.
Meditations for Everyday Anxiety: Anxiety Melt
In Anxiety Melt, you’ll combine meditation and prayer to immediately decrease your anxiety. We’ve included the transcript here:
“Do you feel anxiety right now? Anxiety often seems unbearable. But, rather than trying to escape, let's examine it closer. And as part of that, let's reach out to your higher power. Invite God into your anxiety with you. Describe to yourself and to God how your body is manifesting this anxiety.
Sit here in this feeling. Though it's uncomfortable, don't leave. Stay here. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. And one more breath.
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it's your body's way of trying to draw your attention to something. What do you think your body is trying to tell you? Can you put it into words? Is the thing you feel anxious about something you have control over?
If you do have control over this, ask your higher power to show you the very smallest, very first positive step you can take toward it. If this thing is not within your control, ask God for the strength to let it go.
Breathe deeply in and out. Imagine your higher power above around you, pouring healing energy into your soul. What color is that energy? Imagine it encircling you and giving you comfort. Sit in the color and energy. And now, give thanks for this small gift from God.”
You might feel more calm just from reading the transcript. It’s even better in the app.
Meditations for Everyday Anxiety: Stress Piñata
The five-minute Stress Piñata exercise uses visualization to guide you through anxiety with God’s help. A visualization meditation is a creative and powerful way to decrease anxiety.
“Sometimes, it feels like stress will break you, but stress itself can be broken. And like a piñata, each step you take to break it open gets you closer to a beautiful reward.
Let your eyes flutter closed, and imagine that there's a vibrant, colorful piñata in front of you. The piñata is in the shape of your stress, and with every action you take in this exercise, you'll see it crack open a little more.
Let's start by turning your mind to something funny. When was the last time you found yourself laughing uncontrollably? As you recall this moment, feel its levity carry through your body, and envision your stress piñata just beginning to tear.
Now, imagine yourself one year from today. Future you has a message about your current moment of stress. Some helpful guiding words. What message do you hear from yourself? With these words, you see that the tear in the piñata is growing larger.
Next, ask yourself a question. What's one action I could take to lighten this stress? Choose a tiny, achievable step you can do later today. And with this decision, the piñata begins to almost come undone.
Finally, turn your attention to your breath. With each deep inhale, imagine you're breathing in a beautiful light in your favorite color. And with every exhale, let some of that stress release. Invite the tension in your body to melt.
As you continue to breathe deeply, the piñata finally breaks apart. Out pours a wonderful surprise. Maybe it's an item, or kind words, or even a feeling. What was inside your stress piñata? Enjoy a moment to celebrate your prize. When you feel ready and centered, let your eyes open.”
There isn’t only one way to decrease anxiety. And you’ll probably encounter the need to adjust for different situations. That’s why the Skylight app is so great—it offers a variety of exercises at a high quantity, all provided by spiritual wellness leaders and experts. Oh, and it’s free. So what are you waiting for? Download it here.
Looking for some help slowing down your racing thoughts at night? Decrease your bedtime anxiety with Winding Down (20 min) or Breathe Into Sleep (10 min).
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