During this gloomy time of year, meditation can help to relieve stress and anxiety. Health journalist Carole Beck shares the best ideas to see you through the daily grind.
If you’re feeling frazzled, meditation may be just what you need. It can help relieve stress and anxiety, according to the NHS. Plus, a 2018 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that mindfulness meditation decreases our levels of the stress hormone cortisol and calms the nervous system.
The dark days of January are the perfect time to give meditation a go – and hopefully make it a healthy new habit for good. Here, health writer Carole Beck reveals the best guided meditations for the most stressful parts of the day…
1. For first thing in the morning, try: Calm’s Daily Calm
The meditation app Calm features lots of general meditation sessions but it also has something extra to help cement a morning meditation habit. Daily Calm includes a different 10-minute meditation session every day, each exploring a new theme or practice. It may just be the incentive you need to leave that warm bed. Vitality members can earn two Vitality points a day (up to a maximum of six Vitality points a week) by completing 10 or more minutes of mindful activity with Calm.
2. For your commute, try: Mindfulness App’s Body Scan
Commuting by train or bus? A body scan meditation, in which you focus on your breath while analysing how your body feels will help you release tension and prepare for the day ahead. This meditation is around 11 minutes long but if that’s too long or short, Mindfulness App has plenty of other meditations to suit any commute. Vitality members can earn two Vitality points a day (up to a maximum of six Vitality points a week) by completing 10 or more minutes of mindful activity with The Mindfulness app.
3. For zapping a stressful moment, try: Headspace’s SOS Feeling Overwhelmed Meditation
Everything getting on top of you? This meditation by Headspace lasts just 3 minutes and focuses on instant relief from high stress. If you’re looking for a more long-term solution to ease your stress levels, Headspace also has a 30-day course dedicated to helping you de-stress. Vitality members can receive 30% off an annual Headspace subscription? You can also earn two Vitality points a day (up to a maximum of six Vitality points a week) by completing 10 or more minutes of mindful activity with Headspace.
4. For your lunch break, try: Buddhify’s Stride
Buddhify’s app has the perfect lunch break meditations, including six walking and six work break meditations to choose from, each up to 12 minutes long. ‘Stride’ is a 6-minute walking meditation designed to help you focus on the rhythm of your movement – a quick way to de-stress in the fresh air. Vitality members can earn two Vitality points a day (up to a maximum of six Vitality points a week) by completing 10 or more minutes of mindful activity with Buddhify.
5. Before your evening starts, try: Stop, Breathe & Think’s Relax, Ground and Clear
Meditation can help you draw a line under your day and clear work thoughts from your mind so they don’t crop up in the evening. Stop, Breathe & Think is billed as an emotional wellness platform and this simple 7-minute meditation is great for everyone, helping you reboot your energy levels from high-alert daytime mode into evening relaxation.
6. For dealing with relationship problems, try: Insight Timer’s Resentment, Conflict and Forgiveness
Whether it’s a disagreement with your partner or a rift in a friendship – this short 5-minute meditation by Insight Timer can help offer you another perspective so you can pause and take stock. And with 15,000 other meditations, there are plenty of tracks to soothe general stress and anxiety.
7. For drifting off to sleep, try: 10% Happier’s The Big Sink
Struggling to find the right mindfulness track to listen to last thing at night? 10% Happier, described as ‘meditation for fidgety sceptics’, has 20 no-nonsense meditations to help you nod off and de-stress, including this 10-minute music-free track to help your body sink into the mattress and relax into sleep. Sweet dreams.