How I Made Meditation A Habit

Sometimes life forces us to take a step back and look at where we're at. I know many of you, upon your ADHD diagnosis, experienced this. There's relief in understanding and hope when you make changes, but how do you make those changes stick?

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a few years ago. I had gone to the doctor because I knew something wasn’t right, my stress and anxiety seemed higher than ever and it was affecting me in ways that it never had before. They had me take the anxiety and depression quiz before my appointment and I found out that I failed. 

My whole life I believed I was just an analytical thinker. I didn’t even know that what I was feeling was anxiety. But once I learned more about it, it all started to make sense for me and I was relieved.

One of the management techniques to deal with anxiety is meditation. During the time of my diagnosis, I did a lot of research on mindfulness and Buddhism. I was very drawn to what I was reading and decided to try it.

I admit, it was hit and miss on the meditation. I would go days in a row, either practicing or not. The days I didn’t practice was because I didn’t feel like I had the time. Which is kind of ironic because really that is when you should be practicing it, right? I need to practice to decrease the stress and anxiety that I was feeling during those busy times. 

At the beginning of this year, something changed for me. I knew it was time to pay attention to my meditation habit as my anxiety was starting to run high. However, I also knew I needed to do something different, because just thinking it would happen was not working.

I am a big fan of Stephen Guise, the author of Mini-Habits: Smaller Habits Bigger Results, so taking his advice, I decided to make a mini habit of meditating each day for at least one minute. If I did more, great, but the goal was at least for one minute. I tracked my progress in my daily journal, so each time I meditated, I could check it off. There is great satisfaction in seeing those checked boxes! 

It was working. And then it didn’t. I noticed there were five days where I didn’t mediate. What? How did that happen? I realized that my one minute wasn’t as easy as I thought it was. There was more of a process to it. I would sit on the floor, decide on a guided meditation through my "Calm" app and then meditate, usually for around ten minutes. 

The reason I wasn’t being consistent is some days, I just couldn’t make this particular ritual stick. I realized that to stay consistent, I didn’t have to go through that exact process each time. That some days it was just fine to stay at my desk, close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and get centered. That was just as good as the longer meditation stations. 

This small mind shift made a huge a difference for me, I was able to make meditation a habit. I can’t say it happens every single day, but I can say I have meditated more this year than I probably have in the last two years! My anxiety hasn’t exactly gone away, but I feel better and it's one step towards a healthier state of mind.

Making a change is hard, but by creating a mini-habit, you reinforce it for longer-term success. 

Until Next Time,

Nikki