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Save Your Sanity With This One Thing

Photograph by Twenty20

I've always been a nervous person. My life often feels frantic. There's so much that needs to get done during my day, so much that needs priority. There's a constant to-do list scrolling through my mind and I'm always on the go. I often feel this overwhelming sense of urgency. And on days when I can't get it all done, I feel guilt and failure.

Even sitting still, I have a hard time quieting my busy, over-anxious mind. And at the end of every evening, I'm thinking about all the things that didn't get done and the next day's to-do list, so I have a hard time falling asleep.

When a friend suggested the Calm app, I was hesitant. I'm not the meditating kind of mom; it just seemed a little hippy-dippy to me.

But I decided to give the "7 Days of Calm" meditation cycle a try. After all, what could it hurt? The app was free and if I didn't like it, all I had to do was delete it from my phone.

Surprisingly, from the very first time I did it, I was hooked. It wasn't easy, but the app was reassuring, supportive, patient and actually calming. It was as if the app itself recognized how difficult it is to just sit and be.

What I liked about the cycle I chose to try is that it takes you through the process of meditation. It explains what mindfulness means. Each day focuses on a different aspect of mindfulness. Like everything, meditation needs to be learned. And throughout the meditation process, the app assures you that mindfulness cannot be achieved in a few days; it comes with consistent practice.

It took me almost two weeks to complete the 7-day program. And then I started it all over again. It was easier the second time around. Though my mind still wandered, I was more patient. The moment I stopped focusing on the breath, I reminded myself to return to it.

On days when I meditate, I feel better about myself. The better I feel, the better choices I make. For the first time in a really long time, I am carving out the time to do something for myself.

I enjoyed Calm so much I considered buying the yearly subscription, but I'm cheap about certain things. It takes a lot for me to buy an app or make an in-app purchase. I think long and hard before committing to apps that cost $2.99, so I didn't know if I could justify paying a yearly fee for a subscription to access all the meditations in the app.

But when I got one of those emails alerts letting me know the app had a buy one, get one promotion, I knew it was a sign. I bought the year-long subscription and gifted the other to the friend who originally suggested it. Probably the best money I've spent in a long time. And it's worth every penny.

The app has many different guided meditations that focus on anxiety, energy, gratitude and more. I do the Commuting meditation while on the train to and from work. When I have trouble starting a blog post, I use the Creativity meditation. And I use the Deep Sleep guided meditations daily.

Even my son likes the app. At bedtime, he asks to "listen to the rain and the lady talking." I put on the app and it lulls him to sleep. (WINNING!)

The other evening I came home from work. It was one of those days where everything went wrong and by the time I walked in the door after my horrendous commute home, my chest felt tight, my heart was beating hard, my head throbbed and all the thoughts in my head were making me dizzy. All I wanted to do was throw myself on the couch and eat all my feelings away.

Instead, I took a shower, put on my pajamas and went into my room. I meditated for 25 minutes. When I finished, I felt lighter. The tightness in my chest was gone, my head didn't ache, and I felt like I could focus on what needed to be done.

On days when I meditate, I feel better about myself. The better I feel, the better choices I make. For the first time in a really long time, I am carving out the time to do something for myself. I have finally found a way to manage my anxiety in a positive way. That kind of inner peace is well worth the yearly cost.

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