Three Tools to Help You Start Meditating
Working in a fast-paced industry like the music business can take a toll on an individual’s physical and mental well-being. The high expectations we place on ourselves, coupled with any pressures we might feel from our peers, can leave us feeling mentally burnt out and manifest itself in physical aches and pains.
It might be hard to justify setting aside time for meditation when you feel like your to-do list is overflowing, but making time for your own self-care will improve your productivity in the long run. Besides that, meditation improves mental well-being, making for a happier mind and body.
Here are some of the ways meditation can help.
Reduces stress levels
In a study of over 3,500 adults, it was proven that meditation effectively reduces stress, which can negatively affect sleep, increase fatigue levels, and contribute to anxiety. Increased levels of stress releases the hormone cortisol, which produces inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. The study showed that mindfulness meditation reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress.
Increases attention span
Can help combat addictions
Meditation can make you more self-aware, able to recognize triggers for addictive behaviours, and control the emotions behind the addiction. One study showed that meditation helped people recovering from alcoholism avoid relapse by controlling negative emotions related to their cravings.
These are just some of the benefits of meditation, and the list can go on. But it can feel overwhelming to start without any experience. Here are three free easy-to-use meditation apps, so you can keep some mindfulness in your back pocket.
Breathe asks you to literally stop, breathe, and think so you can check-in on how you’re feeling both physically and mentally. It asks you to notate if you feel “great” or “rough,” then encourages you to log a complex range of emotions beyond the typical happy, angry, or sad. You can choose from grateful, joyous, distracted, disconnected, anxious, and several more to improve emotional literacy and well-being. Based on your responses, the app recommends short guided meditation sessions to help you work through whatever you’re feeling. And, if you’re the type of person who is motivated by a goal, you’re awarded self-affirming stickers whenever you use the app.
Headspace’s home page asks you a simple question, “How’s it going today?” and tailors guided meditation courses for your day. It encourages you to bring awareness to areas of your life like how you react to stress, how you speak to your loved ones, how often you use technology, or how your bedtime routine affects you. It’s a good tool for learning how to be mindful of the little things in life, whether they’re simple things to be grateful for or the small frustrations that can build into emotional and physical stress over time.
Beyond meditation, Tappily encourages mindfulness in everyday life. The app is very goal-based, asking you to log “movements” that take you closer to whatever your goals are. The good thing about Tappily is that you set your own goals. They can range from creativity goals like “writing more music” to wellness goals like “doing yoga everyday,” or whatever else you want to improve. The app also includes a “Light Bulb” function that encourages you to log positive affirmations, and a “Steer Clear” function that teaches you to turn negative thoughts into something positive. It’s a good option if you like journalling and want something that helps you keep track of your progress everyday.
While meditation apps are a helpful tool to keep you in the right headspace, they’re not a substitute for professional counselling and therapy. Unison’s Counselling & Health Solutions provide members of the Canadian music community access to free counselling, so you can get started on your mental health journey.
Register with Unison here and call 1-855-9UNISON to receive help.