Meditation, the simple practice of awareness, breath, and synchronicity, can work wonders on your mental health and prevent anxiety-ridden situations before they even start– that much is true. There are all kinds of ways to go about meditating. There are groups, classes, online videos, apps, mobile apps, and even ways to meditate with exercise.
However, many meditative practices take time. Space. A bed, maybe. A plan.
So what do you do when you’re in an Uber and your Uber driver is a 48 year old soccer mom who slows at every yellow light and you’re going to be late and your heart is pounding and your foot is tapping and it’s all you can do not to jump into the front seat and scream at her for being so freaking cautious with her driving?!
In that situation, there is no plan. There’s no dim lighting, space for a comfortable reclined position, or noise-canceling headphones to tune into your “Headspace” app. You don’t have time to leisurely select the guided meditation you want or to coax yourself through 20 minutes of self-awareness.
That anxiety is happening now. And it’s getting worse by the second. You’re getting sweaty, flustered, and can’t think straight. And you have a meeting with your boss in 20 minutes.
Situations like this, where I experience a level of “urgent”, in-the-now anxiety, happen to me all the time. Before I learned this trick, that was it– I’d freak out in the car, arrive to work flustered and tense, and give the impression to my boss that I was unprepared and agitated. Maybe lacking in personal hygiene (pit stains are too real).
While this does still happen on occasion– nobody’s perfect, and sometimes, your boss understands– it doesn’t always have to. Simply by slowing down in that car and going through these 2 simple steps, I’m able to stop my anxiety from exploding into a full-on freak out.
The best part? You can do these 2 exercises anywhere and anytime. You can practice them for 2 minutes or 20 and still get the postive effect.
So here goes:
1. Ground yourself.
I don’t even mean this figuratively. I mean literally ground your feet to the floor.
According to meditation experts, connecting yourself to the earth (like a plant, for instance) helps you reenergize and connect, making you feel safer and in the moment.
Press your soles and the heel of your foot into the ground and notice the earth beneath your feet. You are here. You are steady. (Even if the car is moving.) You are okay.
2. Breathe out slower than you breathe in.
There are variations of this meditation everywhere online. They tell you to count to all kinds of different numbers: breathe in for 4, hold for 6, out for 8, etc… By all means, try out a few. Different counts work better for different people.
But what really matters about those is that your exhales are longer than your inhales. So if you’re pressed for time, or if everything seems really hectic and you don’t want to have to decide on a number, just make sure the “out” breaths are longer.
You’re letting go of more than you’re taking in. Something about emptying your lungs all the way is immensely calming.
And that’s it.
Repeat if you like, slow it down, do what you need to do in that moment to get you through it. And hopefully, these 2 simple steps will guide you to feeling much steadier when you walk out of the slowest, most aggravating Uber in the world and into work that day.
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