It may not seem like it, but stress is a good thing — in small amounts, anyway. Getting that push can be invigorating every once in a while. When it becomes a habit, though, feeling anxious can cause problems for both your relationships
and your body
Thankfully, meditation can help. "Meditation is really an attempt to still the mind," says Lisa Levine, MS, LAc. "The more still the mind and the more space there is between thoughts, the more peaceful we feel, because it’s the incessant racing of the mind that can leave us feeling anxious."
As the founder of Brooklyn's Maha Rose Center for Healing
, Levine says mindfulness, and meditation in particular, can help us become observers of the thoughts that usually go unquestioned. "That's half the battle," she says. "Instead of being
that negative thought, you can just see that it’s an experience that you’re having."
Science is starting to get on board, too. In research funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists at Harvard have been able to use brain scans to look at our neural activity during meditation
. They've found that meditation can physically change the brain
, possibly even in ways that allow for us to be more resilient to stress and compassionate.
Other recent research suggests that mindfulness-based meditation, which teaches us to be more aware and accepting of the here-and-now, can help combat repetitive anxious thoughts. It can even reduce the need for antidepressants
and ease chronic pain
We can't always justify slipping away for an hour for a guided class. But, we can't use a busy day as an excuse to ignore self-care. If anything, those are the days we need it most. So, with the help of our trusty smartphones, we'll find a way to steal a few minutes for ourselves. Click through to see a few of our favorite stress-busting apps for every meditation (and anxiety) level — and get ready to get your "Om" on.