What is the couch-to-5k edition of mediation and mental focus?
January 7, 2012 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I need to bludgeon my anxiety to death in the most peaceful way possible. Many people recommend meditation. For me, attempting to meditate has been a miserable experience... a sad exercise in white-knuckled denial. Just thinking about it fills me with dread. I know this isn't the way it's supposed to go. I need something more than "sit quietly and allow your thoughts to pass by like clouds". I need the step-by-step, couch-to-5k edition of mental calmness and focus. Help me out, mefi. Give it to me straight, detailed, specific, and with absolute minimum of woo... the mental focus fitness program for someone who can't even lift a metaphorical 1lb weight. Book/media recommendations welcome too. (I'm in therapy already, btw. It's been helpful, but we're not specifically focused on my anxiety at the moment.)
posted by specialfriend to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 112 users marked this as a favorite
Calmness and focus aren't exactly synonyms.

If you find unstructured breath-centered meditation unnerving, how about doing some mental work with "content"? For relaxation you could get recordings of guided meditation or guided visualizations. The ideas (i.e. relaxing the various muscles in your body, or visiting a beach) may occupy your mind, making it harder to entertain anxious thoughts.

For concentration practice, I'd say the 1 lb practice might be deep reading. Check out the book Living on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett. He is big into using literature to sharpen the brain. (Plus his book is from like 1910 so it's free/public domain.)
posted by hungrytiger at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2012

Also, it's not clear what your end goal is exactly. Do you want to suffer less from anxiety? Because the most successful routes to that are offshoots of cognitive behavioral therapy. Do you want to learn to meditate? Many people (including a lot of scientists) have found value in mindfulness-based stress reduction classes. Or do you just want to be calmer and more focused? Because there are a lot of ways (therapy, nutrition, exercise, pharmaceuticals, etc) to go for that.
posted by hungrytiger at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2012

Ditch grains (processed AND whole grains, including oatmeal (even steel-cut oatmeal) bread, spaghetti, etc)
Ditch sugar
Ditch caffeine
Take 10,000 ui vitamin D3 daily (in 4 months from now, reduce to 5,000 daily)

Worked for me!

Believe me or dismiss me as an Internet wacko, but I gave you the information, now it's no one's fault but your own if you don't try it for atleast one month.

I'm not in therapy, I'm not taking medication, I do not exercise. This is all I did to get rid of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts.
posted by midnightmoonlight at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2012 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: To explain why I mix together calmness and focus, my reaction to anxiety is dissociation. So when I have anxiety, I don't get particularly jumpy, my brain just turns into a swirling mess.
posted by specialfriend at 5:31 PM on January 7, 2012

Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living was pretty much my intro to meditation. I especially love the body scan meditation. You can purchase the CDs that go with the book--they may also be available as MP3s now. They're worth every cent I paid. What I like best is that he really does hold your hand (metaphorically) though the whole process of cultivating mindfulness. The program that the book is based on is a pain management program at UMass, but I found that it worked great for anxiety.

Ditto also ditching sugar and caffeine!

Best of luck.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Funny you should ask. I haven't read it yet, but I came across this article recently in the context of starting meditation.
posted by rhizome at 5:37 PM on January 7, 2012

I don't know if what I'm about to describe would be called "meditation," but this is something I do, and it may work for you.

Imagine you are in A Place. It doesn't matter what kind of Place it is -- it's just A Place that is safe. You are now going to explore this Place - rather than deciding what it's going to look like, let your mind surprise you in coming up with the details of this place. (WhatI mean is -- rather than thinking, "Oh, I know, it'd be really pretty with blue curtains...." instead try thinking, "I wonder what the windows look like," and then go with whatever image your brain coughs up.) Continue to explore that Place in detail, exploring it more and more each time you "meditate."

I've actually put myself to sleep in less than 20 minutes by doing this. And I swear I have never seen the room that my Place looks like in my entire life, but I know what it "looks like" pretty well now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2012 [14 favorites]

Next on my anxiety reading list is The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. While I feel weird recommending a book I haven't read all the way through or tried, what I've been reading about ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) lately has me wanting to try it out, so I guess this is more of a "Hey look at this" than "this worked for me" type thing. I like the idea of how structured it is.

But about meditation: I guess it depends on What Kind, but some are just not good for anxious people whose minds are way too active. (Yes, here I am, trying to calm down--wait, that thought was an anxious thought, let it flow through me, crap, is it flowing through? Am I really sitting here with my eyes closed trying to heal myself with a freaking plumbing metaphor? AIYEEE! Etc. And then somebody chides you for doing it wrong.) But since you bring it up, I'll mention something I've found helpful in the past (and indeed in the past few days, as my panic disorder seems to be making a comeback, yay). Basically, it's deep breathing, based on counting to four. You inhale to the slow count of four, hold to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, and hold it--this will startle and surprise--to the count of four. For some reason it short-circuits some of that internal dialogue--probably because I'm busy trying to count and make sure my breaths are deep enough like I'm going to fail at breathing if I get it wrong. Anyway, it's a little less daunting than meditation.

Second (or am I up to third now?), exercise. I have pooh-poohed that advice in the cattiest possible language for YEARS, since a very nice therapist first brought it up. Why oh why would anyone demand I go outside into the scary world to take a walk? But okay, so for the last few months, after I quit smoking and gained a lot of post-nicotine weight, I have made for the first time in my life a concerted effort to exercise. And it has made a really strange difference. You don't mention whether your anxiety is accompanied by lots of physical symptoms. For me, it has been, and so it has been a good and different feeling to not feel my spine coiling up like I am turning into a brine shrimp. I am not so uncomfortable with the breathing (there's that again)...I don't know. It's hard to explain. It just helps. There's a springiness there, a sense of accomplishment too, that you can turn to when all seems bleak. (The world may be ending, but I can now do chin-ups! Take that, weaklings!)

Also, never discount the power of distraction, or rather, focusing on something else. Find the thing you are interested in, and dive into it without ceasing. (For me, this was catching up on all those classics I neglected to read in school. This has been an absolutely defining hobby for a couple of years now, I love it, it structures some of my free time, and even though at first I thought it was going to be a chore, it turns out all those old books everyone reads, they read for a reason! Well, maybe not The Old Curiosity Shop...I may have to put that one down soon, I'm about to OD on Dickens.) Draw, knit, read, swim, sail--there is something you have been meaning to do, to learn to do, or used to do, that let you focus on something other than your worry. Cultivate that!

But also...need I say, if the anxiety is bothering you, maybe you should be specifically focusing on it in therapy?
posted by mittens at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

You might want to look at a book called "How to Mediate" by Lawrence LeShan. He describes the practice of a number of different traditions, and leaves it to the reader to choose which works best for them.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:24 PM on January 7, 2012

For meditation I do the following:

Find a quiet place where you can sit and wont be disturbed for 20 minutes. I usually meditate sitting in bed cross-legged. I set a timer for 20 minutes. You can begin with less, 5, 10, 15 minutes to start if you like.

I count breaths from 1 to 10 and start at 1 again. I try to follow and feel each breath all the way in and all the way out. I count (silently) on the out breath. Make each breath as natural as possible. I try to keep my posture straight, but I try not to stress about it. If my shoulders start to feel tight, I let them relax.

My mind will wander and start thinking of things, but when I notice it I try to let the thought drop and not pursue it further, and return to awareness of my breath. This happens a lot. Don't worry about it. I'm often startled when the timer goes off.

That's it. I do it for 20 minutes. I try for 2 times a day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But that's just me. I'm just restarting my practice lately after being away from it for years. There are lots of books that describe this sort of meditation. Check your bookstore.

Exercise and improved diet can also help clear your mind and make meditation easier. I use vitamin D as well (though 10000 IU seems like a lot, based on what I've read).
posted by DarkForest at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try walking meditation. Take a walk in a nice park, walk for 20-30 minutes, focus on your steps and your breathing. Enjoy.
posted by mareli at 6:42 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have serious anxiety issues, as well as racing thoughts, obsessional thinking, and generally terrible concentration/focus skills - this is due to ADHD, bipolar disorder, and so much more - so I'd probably be in your "1 lb weight" category.

I'm now in DBT - which is all about mindfulness - and this is what my DBT therapist has started me on:

Week One: Keeping your eyes open, breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five, with a short pause in the middle. Try not to "look at" anything or specifically think of anything, but pay attention to the thoughts that come across your mind. If you start getting really distracted by things, close your eyes until you're back in the empty space. Then open them again. I started with being able to do this for about a minute before just itching to talk or something; I'm up to almost five minutes with one or two breaks in the middle.

Week Two: What we did in week one, plus saying a word ("cabbage") and then another word where the first letter of the second word is the same as the last letter of the first word ("envelope.") When my therapist and I are in the same room, she says one word and I say the next; when I'm alone I have to say both. Be warned: many many words end in "e" and far fewer common, immediately remembered words start with "e." I can do this for about five minutes at a stretch, and it definitely calms me down.

Week Three: Weeks one and two, plus a game where you have to pat your right leg with your right hand, then your left leg with your left hand, then snap your right finger, then snap your left finger - all while naming words which begin with successive letters of the alphabet ("apple" - "beach" - "cartography.") I can do this one for up to ten minutes, though I often get very distracted by the belief that I'm doing it wrong (this is one of my big anxieties about everything, so.)

Week Four: Weeks one through three, plus a new one where you watch your breathing for a minute (looking at a clock's second hand.) The object is to try and figure out how long your breaths last each time; most people apparently slow down as the minute progresses. Once you have a fairly good idea of how long your breaths last, you spend the second minute just trying to keep doing that - so if you found you were breathing in for five seconds and out for seven, with about a second in the middle, you deliberately try and time your breaths for the second minute.

At the end of each exercise, ask yourself: "What did I notice?"

You're supposed to categorize your observations into four areas:

1. Feelings
2. Thoughts
3. Physical sensations
4. Urges to act

Things you don't "notice" are:

1. I was doing it wrong.
2. I was upset.
3. I wanted to leave.

Instead you "notice" that:

1. I had the thought that I was doing it wrong.
2. I was worried, sad, and full of despair.
3. I had the urge to run away.

(This is very important to my therapist: she'll make me say it over if I say "I noticed I was doing it wrong.")

Note also that my medications, general therapy, reading up on anxiety, and specific exercises that are geared towards sorting out what it is that led me down the path of feeling anxious are all REALLY helpful. I can't meditate or do these exercises even a little bit if I've forgotten my meds. They're hard enough already.

Fun fact: the current top "related question" was totally asked by me two months ago. I was dissociating from my emotions and wanted an answer which was "not mindfulness." Heh.

Fun bonus fact: when my therapist quizzed me on the set of things I'm supposed to notice during these exercises, I totally couldn't remember "feelings," and she thought that was HILARIOUS.

posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 7:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [22 favorites]

Oh, and posture is really important. It's very hard for me to relax (shocking, I know) but my therapist always tries to get me to sit like this:

Back straight but not ramrod, just not slumping
Shoulders down and easily rollable
Hands on knees, open in a casual, halfway cupped manner, palms to the sky
Feet flat on the floor and out away from the chair/couch, without any weight placed on them
Legs spread a little bit
Not leaning forward or back (I tend to lean further and further forward when I'm keyed up - like I'm getting ready to stand)

She sometimes has me stretch or shake around a little if I seem too tense. I mean, I always seem too tense; there's just a point where it's excessive enough that she intervenes.

(You should see me without the Lexapro and Vyvanse.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 7:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You sound like me when I was trying (and failing) at Vipassana (Insight) meditation. I bloody dreaded trying to do it - it made me more anxious than I was before I started.

First of all: Vigorous exercise - weight training and 15-20 minutes on the elliptical or bike afterward, not too late in the day - helps me immensely; in fact it's the quickest way for me to feel better that I can think of. I would put this way ahead of meditation in terms of getting my insides in some balance.

I gave the meditation a break, then I eventually picked up "Zen Meditation In Plain English" by John Daishin Buksbazen and "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki. Buksbazen offers a step-by-step approach of cycles of counting to 10 which I found very helpful. Suzuki is a bit abstract for me but he offered one parable that stuck with me and which I'll try to reproduce here: what if there were a pack of horses, some of which were the most easily trainable and some of which were very hard to train - i.e. the "worst horses." If the worst horse makes some progress, isn't that more progress than that made by the most easily trainable horse? So sometimes I will sit in meditation and involuntarily think of the phrase "worst horse". This usually will get a laugh out of me, not that you're supposed to be laughing while you meditate but at least after a laugh, I don't take myself, or Meditation Practice, so damn seriously.

A comfortable, upright seated posture is essential, I've found (and the books agree). Since I have the tightest hip flexors and hamstrings on the planet, and I didn't want the wait of mail-ordering a meditation cushion, I duct-taped three yoga blocks together. I cover them with a towel and stick them under my butt (the block stack is wider than it is tall when it's under my butt - anything else would be rather uncomfortable!!) So it looks like I'm kneeling but none of the weight is on my ankles or knees. This allows me to keep my back pretty straight without straining. I can sit for 5-10 minutes, which is better than I was doing a year ago. This does NOT mean that my mind is not wandering; it just means that I can sit there without feeling like I'm going to jump out the window.

Has this helped me with my anxiety? Not sure yet. Has it helped with focus-related matters? I think it has.

As to quitting sugar, caffeine, etc. -- that can induce or increase anxiety in some people and the anxiety doesn't go away after a couple of weeks for some of us after the initial detox like it's supposed to. You might want to try cutting out or down on one substance at a time and see how that works. Or maybe just try a different meditation technique, work out if you're not already doing so, and hang the diet.

Good luck - you are not alone in the least.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I need to bludgeon my anxiety to death in the most peaceful way possible.

Up until this past summer, I could have written this question. Then I picked up a copy of Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong, which introduced me to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I'm now in a much better place than I have ever been. I am much calmer and rolling with the punches, despite the fact that the punches keep on coming!

You are anxious because the future is uncertain — terrible things might happen. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. We squirm away from it and use our most effective tools: predicting, strategizing, analyzing. These are all great tools, and completely useless in this case.

So, I'm going to question your premise. What if uncertainty is not something to run away from?

Let's look at an example. You asked a question before about tattoo removal, so I know you have a tattoo. A painful experience, right? How did you get through it? Did you learn to breathe through the pain? Did you choose the pain for the sake of the end result? What if the pain of tattooing is similar to the discomfort of uncertainty? What if you can breathe through it? What if you can endure it for the sake of the end result? What if it's not something you need to prevent?

An example from my own life: I am uncomfortable being in a position where I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. It triggers my anxiety and perfectionism. I also place a really high value on constant learning, so I frequently put myself in positions where I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but I put myself in these positions for a reason. It is worth it. In order to remove this trigger for anxiety, I would have to stop learning, and I'm not willing to make that sacrifice.

See how that changes the game? You accepted pain in exchange for a tattoo, and I accept uncertainty in exchange for learning.

I won't try to suggest that this is simple or easy. It goes against our instincts. I will suggest that this question signals how important this is to you, and that whatever you're doing at the moment isn't cutting it. This takes difficult work, but I have found it worthwhile.


I'm working through the The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, so I'll second that recommendation.

I would also recommend a movie named Buck, which is a documentary about a horse trainer who treats his horses (and their owners) with the same kind of compassion and guidance that you can offer to yourself. The part of you that is anxious wants to trust that things are going to be okay, even if things don't work out. So do horses. Seriously, check this out and see how a horse's anxiety can be calmed with firm compassion.
posted by heatherann at 8:05 PM on January 7, 2012 [13 favorites]

I haven't read all of the above comments, so I apologize if this has already been mentioned: How about fully allowing yourself to be anxious? This is really hard. But rather than "bludgeoning your anxiety to death", allow it to completely take you over. Say to yourself that whatever situation is making you anxious is fine by you and invite it to take over your body. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Feel the panic in your muscles and the tightness of your breath and the butterflies in your stomach. Don't resist it. This will take some effort on your part. When you are successful, you will be amazed at just how suddenly the anxiety leaves and how peaceful you feel.
posted by rabbitfufu at 8:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I sometimes think that people think that we meditate to achieve something, or get somewhere, that once we have mastered meditation, we will suddenly be calmer, or more enlightened or whatever. For me, the value of meditation is in just doing it, without any expectation of getting it right, or mastering it. I do find always that when I remember to practise daily, I am calmer and more reasonable.

When I first started meditating, I would do it lying in bed before sleep, and imagine a sense of warmth (or light, or whatever you like) starting from the soles of my feet, and seeping upwards through my body, which was very relaxing feeling, and helped me sleep better. Many people feel that you shouldn't meditate in bed. A simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere, anytime of day that will help you to...slow down a bit, is to breathe in slowly (not cartoonishly slowly, remember this is not a competition, and don't make yourself uncomfortable), hold onto the breath for a moment, and then exhale slowly. Three or four repeats of this usually helps me feel a little more clear headed, if I am freaking out, or feeling my thoughts gallop away without me.
posted by thylacinthine at 9:45 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I took a meditation class with a respected Christian practitioner. I had a very hard time with sitting still and trying to achieve a quiet mind. Finally, feeling guilty that I wasn't doing it "right" and was somehow failing, I talked to him after one of the sessions about what I was experiencing. He asked me if I had ever had a good experience with stilling my mind and "listening for the quiet voice within".

I thought for a moment and then said, "Yes, when I walk." He looked at me with amusement and said, "Then why are you trying to sit still?" So, from then on, I went to the "classroom" parts but when we mediated or prayed, I walked around in the garden. Before the class was over, about two-thirds of the people had joined me at least once and good one in five started doing it regularly.

My point is this: meditation is not one-size-fits all. Find what works for you. Sitting still is for some. Walking is for others. Find the style, the method and the content that suits your needs.
posted by driley at 12:01 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've had some success with Headspace. They have an iOS app which offers a beginner's course for free and a good book. Recommended.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:27 AM on January 8, 2012

Establish for yourself that of course you're going to feel miserable and anxious when you begin to meditate. Meditation is about letting your mind be in reality and sink into it. If reality for you at this time is full of anxiety, that's just the way it is. Seeing this clearly and distinctly may be the first step for you.

Anxiety to a large part seems to consist of trying to turn away from some indistinct sense of suffering. The wisdom of meditation is that this turning away is itself a way of suffering. So don't turn away, turn towards.

To put it a bit extremely, you could sit down in meditation with the attitude "I'm going to be anxious now" instead of "I'm going to be peaceful now." Of course you don't have to provoke anxiety. You just have to be present for it and patient with it.

There's no magic a-ha thing you can be told that will give you ease, but I think there's something pretty magical about the kind of acceptance of suffering that goes on in meditation. Like, I don't think anyone ever really finds a perfectly comfortable way of sitting, but if you find something half-way reasonable and then apply all the patience and acceptance you have, something special happens, and a little pain doesn't matter anymore.

Maybe sitting meditation won't work for you right now, but keep something like this in mind. As others have said, walking meditation — I like the somewhat formal style of clasped hands, walking uprightly in a fixed loop — is very underrated.
posted by mbrock at 5:43 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did 12 weeks of DBT and used this online meditation tool. It's perfect for people who don't meditate; a very calm voice talks you through just being aware of your surroundings, being aware of yourself in those surroundings, not getting annoyed with yourself when your mind wanders, etc. It's not woo-woo and clouds at all. The book it's associated with is called Unified Protocol Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders, published by Oxford University Press.
posted by kinetic at 6:05 AM on January 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's funny to see this question, because one of my New Year's resolutions is to learn meditation. I think therapy and what others are suggesting works for anxiety, but I believe meditation can be a good tool as well. Have you thought about joining a meditation group on Meetup? I just returned from a one-day meditation retreat sponsored by a Meetup group. It was very helpful in understanding meditation. I plan to attend their weekly sittings as well. I think support is helping when undertaking a new activity.
posted by dovesandstones at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2012

I just want to agree with rabbitfufu. Anxiety is a totally natural human state that sometimes comes, and then after a time it goes away. Modern medication interferes with the normal rhythms of the human being. And also we try to buy security with possessions, status or whatever, but there is absolutely no security. If I can mention my own experience, I went from being totally healthy to being 75% blind in five seconds one sunny summers day. It took a year or so to accept, but I can't imagine being happier than I've been for many a year now. You could die tonight. Or fall in love tomorrow. Allow yourself to be insecure, accept who you are, love yourself just as you are at this moment; at every moment. It won't happen quickly, and it won't happen if you're taking psychiatric drugs; but if you give it the chance, you will become very happy.
posted by nickji at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've got ADHD rather than anxiety, but I too struggle with traditional meditation. I know that "struggling" is part of the process, but that cognitive knowledge doesn't do anything to to create a feeling of wanting to/looking forward to meditation if it always feels like a struggle.

Instead, I've turned to guided meditations, and in particular I've been really getting a lot of mileage out of David McGraw's "guided visualizations"--he's got a 22-day series called Pathways to Peak Experience that covers a lot of ground, but the unifying element to all the sessions is that they start off with a good 7-10 minutes of relaxation work (mostly not standard "follow the breath" meditation, but more body scan relaxation + "imagine yourself in your happy place" relaxation), followed by an equal time of visualizing various problem areas in your life.

The text on his website is a bit of a turnoff to me (a little bit too much "Laws of Attraction"/"manifesting" crowd), but there's no real woo-woo in the guided visualization sessions themselves, which are mostly focused on very generic goals like letting go of fears or learning acceptance.

He introduces several different relaxation techniques (which may help you identify ones that work best for you), but there's also a certain amount of repetition, so that by the time I completed the series I got pretty good at letting go of the chatter in my head and easily achieving a highly relaxed state.
posted by drlith at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2012

Anxiety, racing thoughts, etc. I'm there with you. My brother, also a member of this club, was helped by, and introduced me to the work of Martin Seligman, esp. Authentic Happiness.

Do you know anybody with a dog that needs extra walking? Hanging out with pets makes me feel better, and walking helps me get centered. Walking the dog means I have to use some of my attention for the dog, and allows me to repeat an affirmation pretty consistently. You can use a positive sentence, phrase or word, and repeat it, similar to meditation, but not the same. A goal of calm-mind meditation may be good, but requires practice.
posted by theora55 at 11:07 AM on January 8, 2012

I came in to suggest walking. I, too, do not enjoy the exercise of sitting in one place and meditating because my thoughts always seem to return to whatever's bugging me. When you're walking, part of your consciousness is focussed on traffic lights, cars, etc, and the other part is free to go where it will. I have definitely seen an improvement in my anxiety levels (and I am a naturally anxious person) after even one week of solid walking for about an hour a day.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:40 AM on January 9, 2012

For meditation, I'd recommend this article on Visspassana. It's a nuts and bolts explanation of how to do it. Here's another useful link.
If you think about it (that's part of the problem right there), our symbol processors are chattering away in our heads all the time we are conscious, and this flow of language masquerades as being 'us' as being the actual source of awareness. Meditation gives you a growing space of non verbal awareness where you can simply enjoy the moment rather than paper it over with a stream of mind chatter.
posted by diode at 8:05 AM on January 9, 2012

My go-to suggestions are Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart or Start Where You Are. You can skip the suggested meditations if you're not ready for them; just think about what she is trying to say and how it applies to you.

The only super-quick way to relieve anxiety is medication, but in the long run you're better off learning to manage it by other means.
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2012

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