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Alcohol and Mental Health

The Best Meditations for Stress Relief

Published:
July 14, 2023
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12 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 14, 2023
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12 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 14, 2023
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12 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 14, 2023
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12 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 14, 2023
·
12 min read

How do you manage your stress? Maybe you regularly get a massage, journal, use different supplements, or try to manage it through physical activity like exercise. All of these are great tools, but if we’ve never tried meditation, it’s probably worth giving it a shot — especially if we find ourselves stressed more often than we find comfortable.

Thankfully, many different types of meditations for stress relief are available to us. So if we’ve tried one and it didn’t work for us, we can always try something else. The important thing is to find one that works for us and be consistent with it. So, what are the best meditations for stress relief? Let’s dive in.

How Meditation Helps With Stress Relief

One reason meditation is so effective for stress relief is that it triggers our body’s relaxation response. In fact, it has the opposite effect of stress by activating our parasympathetic nervous system — a network of nerves that relaxes our body after periods of stress or danger.

Whenever we’re under a great amount of mental or physical stress, our body goes into “flight or fright” mode, releasing the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, chronic stress can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and physical damage in every part of our body. It also takes a toll on our emotional and mental health, putting us at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.

Meditation helps restore our body to a calm state, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Numerous studies have shown that meditation is a particularly effective stress-management tool, helping reprogram our brain and increase our stress resiliency. In fact, one study found that meditation helped alleviate stress after just eight weeks of regular practice.

Similarly, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

The Best Meditations for Stress Relief

While there’s no one right way to go about meditating, several meditations for stress relief have proven to be particularly popular and effective. Here are some of them:

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is a simple meditation that has proven effective as a stress relief technique. Many people find that mantra meditation is a good starting point as it involves choosing a simple word or phrase that we can repeat to ourselves out loud or silently. This can be a spiritual word like “Om” or a word or phrase such as “Calm” or “I am at peace.” It doesn’t matter what word, sound, or phrase we choose — just that we’re comfortable with it.

The goal is to repeat the mantra for several minutes, focusing only on the sound and feel of our mantra — nothing else. If you find other thoughts creeping into your head, try not to berate yourself, but instead gently redirect your focus back to your mantra. It’s best to practice this meditation in a quiet, comfortable place.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular meditations for stress relief. It’s a simple practice that involves being fully present with what we’re experiencing in the present moment. It can be particularly beneficial in helping us slow down our racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm our mind and body. The goal is to be focused solely on “the now” by acknowledging and accepting our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.

For instance, we can practice mindfulness by closing our eyes, taking a couple of deep breaths, and noticing any thoughts that start arising. The goal isn’t to stop our thoughts or judge them, but to observe and accept them. It can be helpful to imagine our thoughts as clouds passing by: our job is to just watch them float by. If we find ourselves starting to judge our thoughts, try not to be hard on yourself. Instead, return to your breath and refocus on the present moment.

Body Scan Meditation

Similar to mindfulness, the body scan meditation helps bring awareness to our body. Oftentimes, our body carries stress in the form of tension that we’re not even aware of. By mentally scanning our body, we’re bringing awareness to every single part of our body, noticing any aches, pains, tensions, or general discomfort. The goal isn’t to relieve the pain completely, but to get familiar with it and learn from it so we can better manage it.

We can start by bringing our attention down to our feet and observing any sensations. If there’s noticeable pain, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions that accompany it, and then gently breathe through it. Visualize the tension leaving your body. Continue doing this for each area of your body, gradually moving up from your feet through the top of your head.

Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is another popular form of meditation for stress release, enjoyed by many for its ease and simplicity. Our breath provides a natural rhythm that we can focus on and get lost in. Box breathing in particular can help produce relaxation. We can practice box breathing by slowly breathing in through our nose and counting to four, holding our breath for four seconds, and slowly exhaling through our mouth for four seconds. Hold another four seconds, then inhale and start the cycle again.

We can practice breathing meditation for a few minutes at a time, or for longer if we’re trying to relax, such as in the evening before going to bed.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

The loving-kindness meditation is also simple to perform and can be used to reduce stress and boost well-being. During this meditation, we focus on sending good and loving thoughts and energy toward ourselves and others. For instance, we might wish ourselves peace, happiness, and contentment. We can even repeat different phrases to ourselves, such as “May I be happy,” or “May I be healthy, peaceful, and strong,” or “May I give and receive appreciation today.”

We can start by focusing on ourselves and then extending these same thoughts and feelings toward our loved ones and the world at large. Try starting with a spouse, child, parent, or friend. Stay in the moment and try to savor your gratitude and love for them. Repeat any phrases you need to for as long as you want.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is particularly effective because it combines the benefits of meditation with the benefits of exercise. Plus, if we walk outside, we also benefit from being in nature, which is a natural stress-reliever.

The key is to remove distractions and get moving. You can walk at whatever pace you like, but try to leave your phone behind. Instead, tune into the sights and sounds around you, or simply allow your mind to wander. Walking medication can also be a good meditation to start with for those of us without much meditation experience. It’s especially useful for people who like to stay active or who might feel stressed by the idea of sitting in quiet and stillness.

Those of us who don’t enjoy walking but still want to move might try incorporating qigong, tai chi, or yoga. These can also help produce a meditative state of mind.

The Bottom Line

There are many different types of meditations out there, but these are some of the most popular and effective meditations for stress relief. Keep in mind that even brief, 10-minute meditations can be beneficial. Again, the goal is to find a meditation that works best for us, and then stick with it. Consistency is key!

Finally, if you’re having trouble managing your stress and find yourself turning to alcohol to help you cope, consider joining Reframe. We can help you cut back on your drinking and put you on track to develop healthier lifestyle habits, including better ways to manage stress.

How do you manage your stress? Maybe you regularly get a massage, journal, use different supplements, or try to manage it through physical activity like exercise. All of these are great tools, but if we’ve never tried meditation, it’s probably worth giving it a shot — especially if we find ourselves stressed more often than we find comfortable.

Thankfully, many different types of meditations for stress relief are available to us. So if we’ve tried one and it didn’t work for us, we can always try something else. The important thing is to find one that works for us and be consistent with it. So, what are the best meditations for stress relief? Let’s dive in.

How Meditation Helps With Stress Relief

One reason meditation is so effective for stress relief is that it triggers our body’s relaxation response. In fact, it has the opposite effect of stress by activating our parasympathetic nervous system — a network of nerves that relaxes our body after periods of stress or danger.

Whenever we’re under a great amount of mental or physical stress, our body goes into “flight or fright” mode, releasing the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, chronic stress can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and physical damage in every part of our body. It also takes a toll on our emotional and mental health, putting us at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.

Meditation helps restore our body to a calm state, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Numerous studies have shown that meditation is a particularly effective stress-management tool, helping reprogram our brain and increase our stress resiliency. In fact, one study found that meditation helped alleviate stress after just eight weeks of regular practice.

Similarly, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

The Best Meditations for Stress Relief

While there’s no one right way to go about meditating, several meditations for stress relief have proven to be particularly popular and effective. Here are some of them:

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is a simple meditation that has proven effective as a stress relief technique. Many people find that mantra meditation is a good starting point as it involves choosing a simple word or phrase that we can repeat to ourselves out loud or silently. This can be a spiritual word like “Om” or a word or phrase such as “Calm” or “I am at peace.” It doesn’t matter what word, sound, or phrase we choose — just that we’re comfortable with it.

The goal is to repeat the mantra for several minutes, focusing only on the sound and feel of our mantra — nothing else. If you find other thoughts creeping into your head, try not to berate yourself, but instead gently redirect your focus back to your mantra. It’s best to practice this meditation in a quiet, comfortable place.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular meditations for stress relief. It’s a simple practice that involves being fully present with what we’re experiencing in the present moment. It can be particularly beneficial in helping us slow down our racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm our mind and body. The goal is to be focused solely on “the now” by acknowledging and accepting our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.

For instance, we can practice mindfulness by closing our eyes, taking a couple of deep breaths, and noticing any thoughts that start arising. The goal isn’t to stop our thoughts or judge them, but to observe and accept them. It can be helpful to imagine our thoughts as clouds passing by: our job is to just watch them float by. If we find ourselves starting to judge our thoughts, try not to be hard on yourself. Instead, return to your breath and refocus on the present moment.

Body Scan Meditation

Similar to mindfulness, the body scan meditation helps bring awareness to our body. Oftentimes, our body carries stress in the form of tension that we’re not even aware of. By mentally scanning our body, we’re bringing awareness to every single part of our body, noticing any aches, pains, tensions, or general discomfort. The goal isn’t to relieve the pain completely, but to get familiar with it and learn from it so we can better manage it.

We can start by bringing our attention down to our feet and observing any sensations. If there’s noticeable pain, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions that accompany it, and then gently breathe through it. Visualize the tension leaving your body. Continue doing this for each area of your body, gradually moving up from your feet through the top of your head.

Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is another popular form of meditation for stress release, enjoyed by many for its ease and simplicity. Our breath provides a natural rhythm that we can focus on and get lost in. Box breathing in particular can help produce relaxation. We can practice box breathing by slowly breathing in through our nose and counting to four, holding our breath for four seconds, and slowly exhaling through our mouth for four seconds. Hold another four seconds, then inhale and start the cycle again.

We can practice breathing meditation for a few minutes at a time, or for longer if we’re trying to relax, such as in the evening before going to bed.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

The loving-kindness meditation is also simple to perform and can be used to reduce stress and boost well-being. During this meditation, we focus on sending good and loving thoughts and energy toward ourselves and others. For instance, we might wish ourselves peace, happiness, and contentment. We can even repeat different phrases to ourselves, such as “May I be happy,” or “May I be healthy, peaceful, and strong,” or “May I give and receive appreciation today.”

We can start by focusing on ourselves and then extending these same thoughts and feelings toward our loved ones and the world at large. Try starting with a spouse, child, parent, or friend. Stay in the moment and try to savor your gratitude and love for them. Repeat any phrases you need to for as long as you want.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is particularly effective because it combines the benefits of meditation with the benefits of exercise. Plus, if we walk outside, we also benefit from being in nature, which is a natural stress-reliever.

The key is to remove distractions and get moving. You can walk at whatever pace you like, but try to leave your phone behind. Instead, tune into the sights and sounds around you, or simply allow your mind to wander. Walking medication can also be a good meditation to start with for those of us without much meditation experience. It’s especially useful for people who like to stay active or who might feel stressed by the idea of sitting in quiet and stillness.

Those of us who don’t enjoy walking but still want to move might try incorporating qigong, tai chi, or yoga. These can also help produce a meditative state of mind.

The Bottom Line

There are many different types of meditations out there, but these are some of the most popular and effective meditations for stress relief. Keep in mind that even brief, 10-minute meditations can be beneficial. Again, the goal is to find a meditation that works best for us, and then stick with it. Consistency is key!

Finally, if you’re having trouble managing your stress and find yourself turning to alcohol to help you cope, consider joining Reframe. We can help you cut back on your drinking and put you on track to develop healthier lifestyle habits, including better ways to manage stress.

Enhance Your Well-Being With Reframe

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The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

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The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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