5 Relaxation Hacks That Work as Well as Meditation
Meditation has a slew of health benefits, but not everyone likes doing it. Here are some worthy alternatives.
It took decades for modern society to accept the idea that closing your eyes and breathing deeply could change your life. Today, meditation is considered a mainstream wellness practice. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of meditating Americans rose from 4% to 14%, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s likely due in part because the practice is now hailed as a remedy for stress, anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, and more.
But for some people, meditation isn’t so simple. The sitting still, ignoring mental chatter, and being nonjudgmental can take more time to cultivate than some are willing to commit. Others may not feel fulfilled by the practice, or they find it boring.
“I have personally tried [meditation] with several teachers, first while doing some Reiki classes, then [the app] Headspace. I’ve paid for Transcendental Meditation training, done a 10-day Vipassana meditation silence retreat, bought a Muse headband to track my progress, and nothing is helping,” one Reddit user wrote in the subreddit r/Meditation. “I’ve been doing it for years, and I honestly feel like it might simply not be meant for some people. Just like anything else, there is no one-size-fits-all with these practices.”
Research shows that meditation can increase the quality of life of longtime meditators due to the practice’s ability to change the brain’s structure. The good news for people who feel less inspired by the practice is that research also shows there are other ways to reshape the mind in positive ways. Here are some science-backed suggestions.
Listen to music
Meditation is believed to be effective at combating mood disorders in part because it teaches the mind to suppress activity in an area of the brain called the default mode network (DMN). Some studies have linked heightened activity in the DMN to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Listening to music, experts say, may confer some similar benefits.