Stress: How can meditation help?

What exactly is stress and how can we manage it? In this article, I discuss what stress is and how meditation can be a useful tool to help reduce it. 


What does stress feel like? 

Stress can cause a variety of symptoms, and it can help to know the signs. These can be broken down into physical and emotional symptoms. Pressure can create physical symptoms in the body, such as:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • muscle or stomach problems
  • constipation
  • going to the toilet more often

Stress can also cause chest pains and panic, a sense of doom and a feeling of heart palpitations, leading to increased anxiety. This can produce sexual issues such as a lack of interest or impotence (adapted from NHS, 2022).

Stress can play havoc with the emotions of being happy one minute and sad or angry the next, like an emotional roller coaster. Tiredness is a common symptom of stress, as is teeth grinding, weight gain or loss, and depression. Losing things more efficiently, misunderstanding others and reacting quickly. Being unable to concentrate, forgetfulness, difficulty with decision making. Feelings of overwhelm can often accompany stress.

With the added symptoms, reduced patience, sleep disturbances, eating habits change, and habits that were in the past can return, such as drinking too much or drug taking. Adding anxiety to the mix can often produce fear of everyday social situations such as work or interacting with friends and family.

Triggers of stress

Knowing all those symptoms can help understand the triggers to stress.

  • life changes
  • financial or health worries
  • a sense of not being in control of a situation in life (such as domestic violence or abuse)
  • having too many responsibilities
  • sudden changes in life
  • work pressure
  • bullying

The above is not a conclusive list (adapted from Mind, 2023.)

Coping strategies: How to reduce stress

Stress can often be the friend of anxiety or vis versa and can take time to recover, especially if emotions and situations have been difficult for a while. There is hope; talking to another adult, such as a therapist, family member, or friend can help to ease the overwhelm. Putting problems into perspective and having informed choices can help alleviate indecision. There are helpful contacts and many supportive agencies for dealing with the stress of bullying and domestic violence (Refuge, 2019), debt or financial issues (2023). 

As a psychotherapist with meditation teaching skills, I provide this for clients who wish to learn meditation skills. Meditation can be a great resource and help to offer grounding, helping to find a moment of peace. A walk in nature, gardening or listening to your favourite music can ease that for a moment. Because stress can happen suddenly or build up over time, meditation can take a while to produce results. Spending time in nature, booking time for meditation asking for help to create the space to value healing and maintain stress reduction.

How to meditate

Learning to meditate can take practice, and often just the simple act of noticing the breath can produce an awareness to know how difficult life has become; it is normal to feel emotional and or laugh when beginning.

Let's begin with a short meditation; find a place to sit and time to meditate for about five minutes

  • Close your eyes if you wish, taking in a few breaths in and out, focusing on the breath. Take time to notice the body breathing in and notice the back resting in the chair, breath out.
  • Breathe in, see the bottom of the seat, and breathe out.
  • Breathe in, notice the feet on the floor, and breathe out.
  • Sit with the breath gently, breathing in and out, and try not to force the breath. Take a moment of calm and notice how the muscles begin to relax.
  • When you are ready to, open your eyes.
  • Take a breath and notice the things around you; what can you see, hear, and smell?
  • Wiggle the toes and fingers, and take your time to move around.

Spending longer each time in this can help to notice places of tension. Begin to breathe into those places, lingering a little longer each time to promote relaxation.

Stress is a sign of noticing self-care. Asking for help – or delegating where possible – and journaling about your experience whilst meditating can be a great way to see how stress is reduced.

If you're looking to give meditation a try but feel as though you're always on the go, I provide meditations on Spotify: ''Zen meditations for busy people.' Take five minutes out of your day to relax. 


  • Get advice now, Debt advice | Free debt advice | National Debtline | National Debtline. Financial conduct authority. Available at: (Accessed: 21 July 2023).
  • Mind (2023), Managing stress and building resilience - tips, Mind. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2023).
  • NHS (2022) Stress, NHS choices. NHS. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2023).
  • Mirum, R. (2019) Are you experiencing domestic abuse? you are not alone, Home | Refuge National Domestic Abuse Helpline. Mirum. Available at: (Accessed: 21 July 2023).

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Burnley, Lancashire, BB11
Written by Sandra Williams, T.A.Psychotherapist/ supervisor at - The Therapists Chair
Burnley, Lancashire, BB11

I am a Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist in the Burnley area.
My background is in NHS health care, youth work and mental health. I work online and face-to-face.
Additionally, I provide meditation techniques for stress reduction

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