A Headspace appreciation post.
Last year I started struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. It began with a very strong sense of sadness and loneliness that set in after I returned from my time studying abroad. In September, I started a new job while also having to attend classes and write my bachelor thesis, which left me worn out and at a point where I felt like I was incapable of achieving anything in life.
Having handed in my thesis around Christmas, I was sure that things would improve. After a much needed winter break I got back to work feeling refreshed and empowered. However, my state of mind quickly got back to the place it was before the holidays and more often than not I did not know how to deal with those dark thoughts.
People do not tend to enjoy spending time with others who seem down, but somehow they never think about how it must feel for the person who is stuck feeling like this in their own skin. I was not being negative and depressed because it was fun, trust me. All I wanted to do is feel better and get back to my old self.
I decided to work on myself for myself. Next to exercising, getting my nutrition in order, and purposely carving out time to wind down, I also started meditating using the app Headspace.
Disclaimer: This app has not cured my anxiety and contrary to popular belief, meditating does not make you all zen and chilled out (at least that has not been my experience).
However, Headspace has helped me feel more grounded and more at ease with the rollercoaster of emotions I experience throughout any given week. It has simply become part of my routine to take 10-15 minutes out of every day to work on my mental state.
What I love about this practice is that you learn that it is okay to feel a certain way. While some people might tell you that “you just have to be happy” or to “cheer up”, this kind of meditation encourages you to just take a step back, to look at your anxiety, or any other kind of feeling you might be experiencing, as just what it is: a bunch of emotions.
In my case, I cannot really change the fact that I feel really anxious for no particular reason on some days. I wake up in the morning and can already feel it in my chest and this sadness, insecurity, and doubt stays there throughout the entire day.
What meditation does for me on those days is to help me breathe through the worst of it. I close my eyes, check in with my feelings, observe my anxiety, and decide on being less harsh to myself.
Personally, I feel like this way of approaching my anxiety has really helped me over the past few months. While I still have those feelings, I am slowly learning how to take a closer look at them and study their influence rather than experience their full force.
My mental state is very much still a work in progress and it probably will be for many years to come. But that’s okay.