There are a plethora of reasons why people find it hard to meditate. “I’m too busy,” “I can’t relax,” “I can’t just sit there,” and the list goes one. These alternatives to meditation will calm your mind in a way that feels good and familiar to you.
Ten alternatives to meditation:
- Running – okay, so nobody loves running. But runners high is a very real thing and it can be just as therapeutic as meditation. Seriously, this is backed by Harvard. This is a perfect alternative for those who think “Who can sit still for that long?” when it comes to meditation. Evening runs are a great day to wind down after a stressful day. Sometimes a calming playlist or no music at all can aid in helping the run become even more relaxing.
Additionally, running can help you become more goal-oriented. There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a distance run and there are so many race opportunities during the fall (Race for the Cure, Turkey Trots) that would be achievable and satisfying goals to hit after picking up the habit of running.
- Journaling– Journaling is perfect for those who just can’t seem to shut their mind off when trying to meditate. It is proven that journaling has significant benefits to your health and it’s a great keepsake. If simply writing your thoughts down feels weird, try making a mind map– it’s slightly less difficult and has the same effect. Journaling can tend to seem like a chore, but if you use the same outline as meditation (ten minutes in the evening or morning) it can become a stress-relieving core part of your daily routine.
- Attend a Religious Service/Pray– this is particularly soothing if you consider yourself religious but it can be just a therapeutic if you don’t. It is especially beneficial to sit with no other obligations in a spiritual space. Additionally, praying can be a form of meditation that seems a little more justified. You are speaking to someone, rather than emptying your mind of anxieties or thoughts.
- Hatha Yoga – Hatha yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on your inner breath, rather than your outer body. With every pose, there is a focus on your pattern of breathing and it can be a form of meditation. This is a bit easier than a classic style of meditation because you have a guide in the instructor. Additionally, you aren’t simply sitting in one position the entire time but stretching your body. It feels productive while simultaneously calming.
- Pick up an instrument– Strumming a guitar or banging out your frustrations on a set of drums can be especially therapeutic. If you are already an avid music lover, this can be a great way to reduce your stress. Contrary to popular belief, you are never too old to learn. The best part is, you don’t even have to be a good player. It is calming to simply play the instrument– regardless of what it sounds like.
- Pet therapy–– Pets are proven to relieve stress. If you have a pet of your own, taking it for a walk or spending quality time with it is a great way to cope with anxiety. If you do not have a pet of your own, local animal shelters are always looking for volunteers to spend time with the animals.
- Go for a drive – If driving is something that typically stresses you out, this might not be something for you but for some people driving is a classic stress reliever and it truly works! Colder temperatures are proven to help relieve anxiety, so driving with the windows down can be even better. Listening to music while driving, or even singing alone can help too.
- Paint – Art therapy is a pretty well-known hack for soothing anxiety. This is an easier alternative to journaling and provides many of the same benefits. It feels a bit more tangible than classic journaling because it doesn’t have to be explained. It can also help you feel more creative. Finger painting can be particularly calming– as you feel more in touch with what you are producing on a canvas.
- Cook – Believe it or not, cooking can really help with anxiety. Following directions of a recipe can feel therapeutic and rewarding. It also helps you feel in control and depending on what you make, the food itself can help reduce your anxiety. Not to mention, it is particularly calming.
- Try real therapy– Sometimes, it feels like nothing helps you feel at ease. This is when a real therapist comes in to play. This is probably the most foolproof item on this list, and definitely the most beneficial. Therapy is not just for serious mental health problems; it can be extremely beneficial for everyone. Sometimes, a therapist can even help you learn to meditate.
This piece was written by Olivia Evans.