According to a 2019 Gallup poll, people living in the U.S. are more stressed, worried, and angry than those who live in other countries. And work is one of the biggest factors contributing to this stress. If this is you all day, every day, then meditating after work can help you deal. Haven't yet tried the relaxation technique everyone is raving about? Experts say meditation is a proven way to destress after a hard day.
"Some reasons why meditation helps us view stress differently are that it allows us to gain a new perspective, helps us reduce negative emotions, aligns us with our inspiration and creativity, and increases self-awareness so we are less impulsive and respond with more of an intention," Michelle Zarrin, an inspirational speaker, meditation teacher, and author of the book From My Heart to Yours: Based on a True Story, previously told Bustle for a story about how meditation reduces stress in your brain.
Frankly, I don't know a single person who's not stressed out AF from work. All of my friends work too hard for too little money, which means a decompression strategy — like meditating after work — has become an essential survival skill. Ready to try it? Here are some easy meditations to decompress after a stressful work day.
1. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center Breathing Meditation
Focusing on your breathing helps you stay grounded in the present moment versus holding onto the stress from your day. And this five-minute guided mindful breathing meditation from Diana Winston at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center is a quick way to rid yourself of stress after work.
"Research in mindfulness has identified a wide range of benefits in different areas of psychological health, such as helping to decrease anxiety, depression, rumination, and emotional reactivity," the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center said on its website. "Research has also shown mindfulness helps to increase well-being, positive affect, and concentration."
2. A Pause For Presence
Insight Timer is my go-to meditation app because it has thousands of free stress-relieving meditations. If you need a quick reset after work to cleanse your mind, Tara Brach's 11-minute "A Pause for Presence" meditation is described as, "a way to open, center, and start fresh in the midst of any difficult situation."
Brach, a clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher, and author, also has a highly rated eponymous podcast that focuses on mindfulness and self-compassion. The podcast offers meditations, investigative content, and reflections to help you learn more about the inner workings of your brain.
3. Mindful Walking Meditation
If you like to take a walk after work, it's easy to turn your stroll into a meditative experience. This mindful walking meditation from Stop, Breathe & Think teaches you the basics of mindful walking. According to Stop, Breathe & Think's website, mindful walking encourages you to engage your senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) to increase your awareness of your body and surroundings while you walk.
"A mindful walk is an excellent way to clear your mind of clutter and restore your sense of focus. It is also a great excuse to get out into nature," Stop, Breathe & Think explained. "Several studies have shown that taking a break to look at or be in nature can have a rejuvenating effect on the brain, helping to free up your mind when you feel stuck and boosting levels of attention."
4. Meditation To Ease Stress By Deepak Chopra
For those in the know, the name Deepak Chopra is synonymous with meditation. A doctor, meditation advisor, founder of the Chopra Foundation, and bestselling author, Chopra has been described by Time magazine as the poet-prophet of alternative medicine. If you're looking to ease stress after a hard day at work, Chopra's 10-minute meditation to ease stress is just what you need to help re-center yourself.
"Over the course of the next 10 minutes, Chopra will guide you in calm, controlled breathing and help you make space in the mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed," the meditation description the website Sonima noted. "This meditation will help you calm your nerves and also prepare yourself for action, which often proves to be the ultimate antidote to anxiety."
5. Ujjayi Breathing Meditation
For those looking for an active meditation, Ujjayi breathing can help occupy your mind while relaxing your body. "Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) is commonly translated as 'victorious breath,'" Melissa Eisler wrote for the Chopra Center. "Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body."
In order to practice Ujjayi breathing, seal your lips and start to breath in and out through your nose. Next, inhale through your nose a little deeper than normal. Then constrict the muscles in the back of your throat while exhaling slowly through your nose.
"If you’re doing this correctly, you should sound like waves in the ocean — the inhales can be compared to the sound the ocean makes as the water is gathering up to form the wave, the exhales can be compared to the sound of the waves crashing to the shore," Eisler said.
6. Headspace Meditation For Stress
Headspace is another popular meditation app offering guided meditations that specifically target stress. "We meditate to counter the 'stress response' with the 'relaxation response,' leading to a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption," Headspace said on its website.
You can check out a free 11-minute stress relief meditation to get started on the road to a less stressful life. The effects of meditation are cumulative, which means that the more you meditate, the better you'll feel. Start with a short meditation like this one and add a few minutes each day.
7. Mount Sinai Health System Relaxation Response
If you have a little more time, this 17-minute relaxation meditation from Kayleigh Pleas, a wellness and positive psychology coach, will have you feeling chill in less than 20 minutes. While your job might not get less stressful, turning to a relaxing meditation after work can help change your response to that stress. This in turn might make your job seem less stressful.
According to the Mount Sinai Health Library website, "practicing meditation may help you react in a calmer way to your emotions and thoughts, including those that cause stress."
8. Total Relaxation To Ease Stress And Tension
This is another one from Insight Timer. Lisa Abramson, a keynote speaker, executive coach, author, and mindfulness teacher, has myriad meditations for stress, anxiety, and self-compassion, but this one might be the most relaxing because you can do it lying down. In just 10 minutes this meditation will help you dissolve tension and replace it with gratitude.
No matter which meditation you choose, all forms of meditation can help significantly reduce stress and anxiety, according to Harvard Health. In addition, there are tons of meditation apps that will turn your phone into a stress-relieving device so you can unwind whenever you want.