Millennials have no shortage of things to stress about. From pulling all-nighters to acing exams, working long hours to pay for expensive tuition, and struggling with a difficult job market, this generation definitely doesn’t have it easy. In fact, the American Psychological Association released a study in 2015 showing that Millennials are the most anxious generation.
Because of this, it’s important for young people to figure out stress management techniques that they can practice on a daily basis. One easy way to reduce stress levels is through meditation. “Meditation is a very simple way to calm down and tune out all of life’s distractions,” says Deborah Baldachino, a teacher who leads her classes in weekly meditation sessions. Meditation isn’t just for monks or yoga teachers-it’s for everyone! Here’s how to start a daily meditation habit and find a little zen in the midst of your everyday life:
1. Pick a time and place
“Set aside a little free time, even if it’s just for five to ten minutes,” says Baldachino. It’s important that you won’t be interrupted while meditating, so go somewhere quiet where you can be alone. Make sure you feel comfortable. Try sitting cross-legged on a cushion or pillow.
2. Set the mood
“You should always turn off your phone before meditating; staring at screens and getting too wrapped up in social media is one reason we’re so stressed these days,” says Baldachino. Turn off any text or call notifications, but make sure to leave your alarm on. Set a timer so you know when it’s time to come back to the real world. “You can also use relaxing music, a guided meditation audio, or even nature sounds to help you focus. There are lots of resources online,” says Baldachino.
“Starting out is as simple as sitting down, getting comfortable, and closing your eyes,” says Baldachino. “You can approach the next few minutes with different methods. You can try positive visualization. Imagine yourself somewhere peaceful, like a warm, sunny beach, and try to feel it with all five senses. You can simply concentrate on the sensation of breathing in and out. Or you can repeat a mantra in your head. Your mantra could be anything short and sweet that holds meaning for you.” Personalize your approach to meditation in order to feel your best after it.
4. “Wake up” slowly
“Don’t rush back into whatever you were doing when your timer goes off,” advises Baldachino. You could drink a cup of tea, write in a journal, or spend a little time outside. Try to choose an activity that relaxes you and gives you a little space to think.
Making meditation a daily habit has been proven to reduce stress levels. Start small with just a few minutes a day, and if you stick with the routine, you’ll feel more and more relaxed each day. As time goes by, you can work up to longer sessions. “Meditation is great for people of all ages, from all walks of life,” says Baldachino. “Everyone can benefit from this practice, especially in our fast paced world.”
Written by Jane Harkness