3 Quick Relaxing Meditations to Relieve Anxiety and Stress
Here are 3 simple— and even fun— “meditations” that can help you quickly reduce your anxiety in stressful situations. They involve breathing, smiling, and laughter.
1. 4-7-8 Breathing Meditation
Breathing exercises like 4-7-8 breathing exercise your diaphragm (which tightens up with stress), slow your heart rate, and stimulate your vagus nerve.
Your vagus nerve runs from your gut to your brain. Research shows that vagus nerve stimulation reduces fear and anxiety. It is thought to cause the release of hormones and neurotransmitters (ie serotonin) that assist in relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.
How 4-7-8 breathing works:
To begin, stand or sit up straight. Exhale to expel all the air in your lungs to start a fresh cycle of breathing.
Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your top teeth and leave it there for the whole exercise.
The 4: close your mouth and quietly breathe in through your nose to a count of 4
The 7: hold your breath for a count of 7
The 8: exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 (allow your breath to make sound as it comes out)
Repeat the 4-7-8 steps for a total of 4 cycles.
2. Smile meditation
We know that smiles release feel-good endorphins, but you don't have to wait around for something that makes you smile to get the benefits of smiling.
Research shows that even fake smiles improve your mood, reduce physical pain, and increase stress-resistance. Think of them as bonus smiles.
Give it a go: Start a smile and keep it going for at least 15 seconds. Notice how it lifts your mood.
Think about where in your day you can fit in some bonus smiles (ie when you wake up, in the shower, doing dishes, each time you wash your hands . . .).
Watch out for resting frown face. Pay attention to when you've gone into resting frown face and make yourself smile instead. Notice how it gives you a little (or big) lift.
3. Laughter meditation
Laughter has many benefits to your body and mind: it increases your immune response, exercises your innards, and boosts your mood. You don’t have to wait for something funny to cross your path to get a laugh. You can make laughter happen with laughter meditations.
One laughter meditation:
Stand with your feet planted on the floor and your arms at your sides.
Raise up your arms as you say a stretched vowel (like eeeee or aaaaaa) until you turn it into a giggle.
Wave your hands around as you let it become a fuller laugh.
Repeat the arm movements as often as you want.
Make the laugh as big and long as you can.
Books and Recordings for Anxiety and Stress Relief
- Ann Silvers