Have You Been Wondering How to Manage Stress with Meditation?

Stress is something we all experience. And, if you’re like me, you probably experience it often.

Whether it’s a busy season, opposing counsel acting like a jerk, or wanting to do right by my client even when the outcome is not in my control, when I get stressed about something, I tend to obsess over it. I can’t turn my mind off. I replay it over and over in my head like I’m on a mental hamster wheel. I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind running a hundred miles an hour. I incessantly think about what I could have done differently, even though it’s impossible to change the past.

It’s exhausting.

While the triggers that cause stress aren’t something that will ever go away, I’ve searched for tools to help me better deal with it it. As one of my favorite artists says,

Meditate, don’t medicate.

J. Cole

For several years, I’ve practiced meditation but not consistently. I’ve used the Buddhify app, which I love, on days when it got really bad. Once the mental gymnastics subsided, though, I didn’t stick with it.

Because the last few weeks have been particularly challenging, I dubbed this month “Mindfulness May” and committed to a daily practice. I began using Headspace, which has several different courses, from the basics to dealing with a particular emotion. After completing the introductory 10-day basic course last month, I committed to the 30-day course called “Letting Go of Stress”.

Every morning, I work through the program, spending 10 – 20 minutes training my mind. In the beginning, it was so hard not to spend the entire time sitting there completely focused on whatever was causing me stress. I swear, the first say I maybe spent 30 seconds not thinking about it. But the next day was a little better. And the day after that even better. I still have days that aren’t great, there’s definitely been an overall change.

While I generally feel calmer, the real difference has been when something happens that starts the hamster wheel. The wheel starts, but it’s not as intense and doesn’t last as long. As I mentioned, it’s unrealistic to expect a trigger will happen and it will just roll off my back. That’s likely never going to be the case for me. Instead, when I feel myself starting down the rabbit hole, I flex the muscle in my brain that I’ve been training. I go to that calmer place and focus on keeping perspective rather than obsessing over something I can’t change.

To clarify, this meditation practice has nothing to do with religion or spirituality, although it certainly could. It’s simply been a helpful tool for me to manage stress, which I’ve struggled with for years. It’s amazing that something so simple can make such a difference.

This is not an ad. I do not endorse or receive compensation from any tools mentioned.

How do you manage stress? Do you know what tends to trigger you? How does stress typically manifest in your life?