We all know what it's like to feel anxious. The butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, headaches, or tightness in the chest are natural to experience when our adrenaline is elevating. And while symptoms of anxiety feel uncontrollable or erratic at times, understanding them is the first step in managing anxiety-and that's where meditation comes in.

Through meditation, we learn to change our relationship with the narratives anxiety wants us to believe. With a new perspective, you're also more likely to experience the following six benefits:

  1. Reduces stress. Stress reduction is one of the most popular reasons people try meditation. When we experience stress, the body releases a variety of stress hormones-one of them being cortisol. This hormone causes the adverse effects of increased stress, which ultimately disrupt sleep, promote symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and the inability to think clearly. According to research, meditation has been extremely effective in decreasing these effects.
  2. Enhances self-awareness. Generally speaking, all meditations work to improve self-awareness.  Some forms of meditation help you develop a stronger sense of self while others recognize any unhelpful or negative thoughts. The idea is that as you gain awareness of these thoughts, you can change how you respond to them and, ultimately, decrease any anxiety they create.
  3. Lengthens attention span. Meditation can be compared to lifting weights for your physical health. If you consider the mind as a mental muscle, meditation works to strengthen it by increasing your attention's endurance. Numerous studies have proven its effectiveness, revealing how regularly practiced meditation allows people to perform better on visual tasks. What's more, some experts say that meditation can even reverse brain patterns that lead to mind-wandering, worrying, and ruminating thoughts. 
  4. Promotes kindness. Some kinds of meditation, such as Loving-Kindness Meditation, promote positive feelings towards yourself and others. When you nurture feelings of unconditional positive regard and kindness towards yourself, you encourage emotions such as love, joy, and cheerfulness- all while reducing self-criticism. Over time, your ability to empathize with others allows you to experience the same within yourself.
  5. Supports emotional health. The benefits of meditation extend to your emotional health. As attention and mood improve, studies have shown that those who meditate also tend to be less affected by negative or adverse stimuli. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of psychotherapy that many people with anxiety benefit from utilizing, as it has been shown to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. 
  6. Improves sleep. Sleep is crucial to our health. If you struggle with anxiety, you know just how anxious thoughts can disrupt sleep, and if you don't get enough of it, it's easier to feel stressed and anxious. Meditation allows you to cope with anxiety-provoking thoughts while releasing tension to promote a peaceful, relaxed state before bedtime. 

The bottom line

Although meditation is an accessible tool that anyone can utilize, it's no quick fix. If you have severe anxiety, it's essential to reach out to a mental health professional. They'll work with you to determine how you can implement meditation into your treatment for the best possible outcome.