Guided Meditation for Anxiety and Stress

Ali Hettinger, MA, LPC

Anxiety and stress are running rampant in our world today. How can we cope with anxiety and stress that we experience? In this article, Ali Hettinger, MA, LPC, will briefly discuss the toll anxiety takes on the body, and how guided meditation can help ease anxiety and stress. She also provides a script for guided meditation to calm stress and anxiety in the body and mind.

In This Article

  1. The Toll that Anxiety Takes
  2. What is Meditation?
  3. How Meditation Calms Anxiety
  4. Guided Meditation Guide to Ease Anxiety & Stress
  5. Script for Guided Meditation

About the Author

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Ali Hettinger, MA, LPC is a professional counselor specializing in Marriage Counseling, Anxiety, and Depression. You can schedule an appointment with Ali for online counseling or in-person at our Columbia, Missouri counseling center.

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The Toll that Anxiety Takes

Anxiety is becoming an epidemic to our culture that promotes stress and overwork. It takes a toll on us in already stressful situations like conflict, overwhelm, or grief. It’s like coffee… it revs us up to get ready for whatever might be coming next.

What is Meditation?

Guided Visualizations or Meditations are one way to cope with stress or anxiety. When many of us think of meditations, we usually think about sitting cross-legged on the floor uttering sounds. Although this is a type of meditation, it is not an all encompassing meaning of the word. Meditation actually means, ‘to think deeply, ponder, and contemplate’ (Merriam – Webster).

How Meditation Calms Anxiety

When we are able to practice slowing our breaths and focusing on something other than circumstances or “anxious thoughts”, our minds and bodies have the ability to slow down and remember that we are ok. We are learning to move into a place of responding rather than reacting.

Using Imagery in Guided Visualization & Meditation

Imagery is one of the most basic ways in which our minds holds and classifies information. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is used so often because our minds can conjure up images and utilize senses more quickly than pulling from knowledge. Through the use of imagery and meditation, we remind our minds that in stillness, there is also safety.

Guided Meditation Guide to Ease Anxiety & Stress

I want to give you a guide to creating your own pre-recorded guided meditation, which you can utilize to help calm anxiety.  To do that, you may use a voice memo on your phone or some other recording device. You will read from the script I have provided below. To make this more helpful for you, I will add three dots (…) when you can take a breath and create a small space in the recording (a few seconds). Read through the script slowly and calmly, as your your voice tone and pace are important.

Script for Guided Meditation

(begin reading here)

Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted and sit or lay in a comfortable position. Allow your mind to be able to focus and be free from distractions.

Before walking through guided medication, take 2 or 3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Think about the breath and what it feels like going in and then being released.

Now we will begin our guided meditation.

Start by taking two deep breaths…

In through the nose, out through the mouth…

If you are in a seated position, allow your back to relax into the seat or cushion behind you…

If you are laying down, feel your body relaxing into the bed or floor beneath you…

You can rest your hands in a comfortable position on your legs or if you are laying down, on your stomach…

Close your eyes if you’d like or if you would prefer to leave them open, let them establish a soft gaze…

Keep feeling the inhale as it flows through your nostrils and into your lungs…

Feel your lungs fill with air and expand…

And then feel the breath being release out of your mouth and back into the air around you…

God has created your breath to fill you with oxygen and life and to release unnecessary toxins and stress out of your body…

As you continue to follow your breath through your inhalations and exhalations, notice your chest expanding and falling…

Notice your head and if it is comfortably settled in a sitting or laying position…

Pay attention to what happens in your neck as you make your head more comfortable…

Relax your shoulders and feel their weight being pulled down by gravity…

With every breath in you feel your body fill with life, and with every breath out you feel your body relax into the chair or floor…

Anxiety is a way for our mind to try and make sense of the world around us. It tries to do this by thinking of all the ways a circumstance can go or has gone so that it can protect you from pain and perceived harm. Although anxiety doesn’t feel like a friend, it works hard to try and be one…

Notice again what happens when you take deep, slow breaths in and out…

Practice paying attention to the way the breath feels… … … (extended pause 10-15 seconds)

 

When you are worried or afraid or anxious your body tells you that something might be wrong and prepares your muscles and lungs and brain for action…

This is why it is important to pause and take a moment to breathe… calming the nervous system…

You don’t need to make the breath happen … it just comes and goes on it’s own. Right now you are just paying attention to it…

And this break in thinking … this noticing… creates new pathways in your brain that remind it that anxious or worried thoughts are not the only way to problem solve… not the only way to engage in the world…

Little moments of pausing, like this one, grow over time and practice into new habits… peaceful habits…

So as you consider opening your eyes and re-engaging in the world around, remember this feeling… this space … and come back to it whenever you like, letting your breath lead you here.

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