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Meditation to Manage Feeling Overwhelmed

by BetterSleep
Aug 6 • 4 min read

In today’s fast-paced world, feeling overwhelmed isn’t just common; it’s almost become the norm. From keeping up with work demands to managing your relationships and taking care of your health, it’s no wonder we constantly feel burnt out. And while it may be tempting to say, “everyone is overwhelmed; that’s just part of life,” it doesn’t have to be that way. Plus, feeling stressed and overwhelmed can have negative effects on your overall well-being.

There are plenty of tools and resources you can use to deal with overwhelming emotions, but one, in particular, has been proven to be a quick and effective way to reduce stress and overwhelmed emotions - meditation. Keep reading to learn about the amazing ways that meditation can help you manage feelings of being overwhelmed, and how to start practicing it yourself.

What does it mean to feel overwhelmed?

The first step in dealing with overwhelming emotions? Identifying that it’s happening. When you’re overwhelmed, you feel intense emotions that make it hard to get things done or even get through the day.

Here are some common signs that you may be overwhelmed to watch out for.

  • Irrational thinking
  • You feel “stuck” and unable to accomplish simple tasks
  • Overreacting to things you wouldn’t usually react to
  • Mood changes
  • Cognitive fatigue and difficulty making decisions
  • Rapid heartbeat, dizziness, difficulty breathing

How does meditation help when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Meditation may seem daunting if you’ve never tried it, but it’s actually an extremely simple practice that you can use anytime, anywhere. Meditation is about paying attention to what’s happening at this moment by focusing on the physical sensation of your breath. When you do this, you learn how to let go of unhelpful thoughts that may be racing around your brain and instead focus on your breathing and what’s happening around you.

When overwhelmed, you’re not thinking clearly. Meditation practices help bring you back to the present moment and make you more self-aware. This makes it easier to deal with your problem in a healthy way. Researchers have even found that mindfulness impacts two different stress pathways in your brain that deal with attention and emotion regulation, helping to reduce stress.

Benefits of meditation

Meditation isn’t just helpful for when you feel overwhelmed. It has an extensive list of physical and mental health benefits like these.

  • Better sleep
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces negative emotions
  • Increases patience
  • Improves self-acceptance

How to use meditation when you feel overwhelmed

There are plenty of different ways to meditate; it’s all about finding the one that works best for you. Here are some different kinds of meditation you can use when stressed.

Mindfulness meditation

Stemming from Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation is when you observe your thoughts in a non-judgemental manner. So instead of reacting negatively to a thought or getting caught in a negative thinking spiral, you acknowledge the thought and then get back to focusing on your breathing or any other physical sensations you may have.

Guided meditation

Guided meditation is great for people who are new to meditation or have difficulty focusing. These meditations are led by a teacher (either in person or through an audio recording or video) who guides you on what to focus on. For example, they could guide you through different breathing techniques, such as box breathing. Here you take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold again for 4. The teacher may also use imagery/visualization, such as imaging your breath traveling around a box in a box breathing or imagining a calming situation like a beach or forest.

The best part about these meditations? You can do them anywhere at any time. Simply find a quiet, calm spot to sit or lie down and start focusing on your breathing. As mentioned above, you can look up a guided meditation online if you don’t know where to start. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about a specific situation (such as work, negative body image, grief, anxiety, etc.), try looking up meditations for that situation. Thousands of free guided meditations are made for just about any situation you can think of.

Try meditation now on the BetterSleep app! Compare how you feel before and after the practice to see how it can help ease your stress levels. Remember, it’s a practice for a reason; the more you train your brain to calm down and focus on the moment, the better.

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