fitness · meditation · sleep

Stressed out? Meditation helps, and so does sleep

Image description: Yellow background with a sun reflecting on the water on the left side, a lotus flower on the water's surface with a rippled reflection on the right side.
Image description: Yellow background with a sun reflecting on the water on the left side, a lotus flower on the water’s surface with a rippled reflection on the right side.

I went on a retreat this weekend with some friends. It was at a lakeside retreat centre a couple of hours away and the weather was beautiful. I set myself one main goal this weekend, and that was to get enough sleep.

The retreat involved organized sessions that included guided meditations. I like guided meditation especially when it’s “live” and I’m doing it with other people. But this weekend, I uncharacteristically fell asleep through each of the guided meditations. I could feel myself nodding off and there was nothing I could do about it. Obviously, I needed sleep.

This morning I was chatting with my mother, who recently completed a course on mindfulness meditation. I told her that despite the retreat, I was feeling stressed out at work. I really can’t stand complaining about workload because I have a great job and I realize that, but I do feel overwhelmed. But I mentioned this to my mother and she said, “are you practicing mindfulness?” (I love that she took that course and now is offering mindfulness as a solution to stress!).

She’s right that meditation always helps. Even if I just take a few moments of silence, it can bring me into the present moment where things seem a lot more manageable than when I am worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow.

On the retreat we learned a technique that I have encountered before called “anchoring.” If you’re feeling mental discomfort or distress, think instead of a time when you felt peaceful and content or even joyful. Really focus on that feeling and anchor it somehow (e.g. touching your ring, snapping your fingers, even inhaling an essential oil). If you really connect with that feeling and anchor it in this way, you can use your anchor to bring you back to that sense of peace and contentment when you’re feeling a more negative feeling.

Anchoring is not exactly the same as mindfulness, but it is another process that we can use in meditation. For more information about how to use anchoring to alleviate stress, check out this article, “From Chaos to Calm in an Instant: How to Create a Positive Anchor.”

The anchoring meditation was the only guided meditation that I didn’t fall asleep during. To make up for the others, I took a couple of sessions by myself to sit in silence in a beautiful meditation room they have on site, overlooking the lake. It’s called The Oasis, and for some reason no one ever seems to go there. I love it.

So I meditated, I slept, and I anchored. And yet still I came home with an uneasy feeling. I think one reason this happens after a retreat is that, for me, I have a tough time reconciling that sense of peace with the chaotic pace of my day to day life. I got back to town and went straight out to a birthday party, followed by a different celebratory dinner, followed by an event in someone’s honor. Even though these are all good things, the pace of it all reversed the sense of calm because I had to rush around. I fell into bed exhausted, and felt the urgency of the week’s tasks press upon me as soon as I opened my eyes.

The good thing about meditation, sleep, and anchoring is that you don’t need to be at a retreat centre to do them.

What are your go-tos when you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed?





5 thoughts on “Stressed out? Meditation helps, and so does sleep

  1. I make a list. Then I see if I can cancel something. And I finish with a dance round the living room to something funky. An early night also helps a lot.

  2. Really great post. So many of the blogs I follow are talking about the harried nature of modern life right now. I hear ‘back to school’. My gf’s with kids are echoing the same thing. We have no kids but the constant chores and never ending bells, dings, chimes, emails and dust drive me nuts. How do I stay sane? Meditation, sleep and boundaries. I often take a Friday or Monday off to clean and clear my head. I say no to a lot. I celebrate being child free and aim to keep the closets and cabinets as uncluttered as my head after a good nights rest. A deserted island might be easier haha.

  3. When I get stressed out I ask for help. Yes, I said I could handle all the snarfblats & dinglehoppers but when I realize I’m not going to meet a work deadline I draw on my team.
    At home we take turns on all the things and help each other out.
    I also start scheduling my friends so I get extra hugs. I call my best friend from highschool, she always validates me while making me laugh.
    I eat really good food. Sometimes, counterintuitivly, I help someone else out. I often do that when I can’t move my own things forward (waiting on a reply email etc).
    And other times I just park my butt on the couch, have a good cry/nap then acknowledge THIS SUCKS and that this shitty moment will pass.

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