Three years ago I found myself lying face down on a sidewalk in the middle of a street fair. I managed to talk my wife into taking me home because I had the flu, but I knew that the real problem was probably my unchecked blood pressure. Once we got home she called the hospital then paramedics. My blood pressure had reached a number that even the paramedics said was the highest they’d ever seen. The truth was, I’d had a medical and dental phobia that had kept me from seeing a doctor for over 10 years. Out of necessity, I started seeing the doctor regularly and treating my blood pressure with medication.

But I realized that the main feeling I had before doctor visits and with social interactions and with work was that I was always anxious. If I was worried about a future event, I’d ruminate on that to the point that I could feel adrenalin pounding through my veins and my heart would race and I would start to feel awful.

After a stressful period of work last year I started downloading various relaxation podcasts and apps. I tried dozens of them and then in an article about online meditation I found Headspace listed as the author’s favorite. Specifically, he’d said that Andy’s voice was soothing without being patronizing. I gave it a try.

If I was worried about a future event, I’d ruminate on that to the point that I could feel adrenalin pounding through my veins and my heart would race and I would start to feel awful.

I loved that Andy didn’t speak like he was talking to children which was something that many of the guides on the other programs did. I also liked that the methods were explained and that one day built on the last. As it happened, there was a special offer running right around Christmas and I decided to give myself a Christmas present.

I’ve been meditating every day since then and it’s been a constantly steadying force in my life. Most days I don’t encounter a lot of anxiety or stress inducing issues, but when I do I can feel the difference that meditation has made.

It works for me in the mundane, daily times but also when there are stressful, hard days. Last year while I was visiting my parents, my mother couldn’t get out of bed and we called the paramedics. After hours in the Emergency Room, we found that she’d had severe internal bleeding and needed a transfusion. Meditating every day helped me to keep calm, but it also helped me keep my parents calm and be able to interact with the doctors and nurses in a less stressful way than I would have in the past.

But the biggest change is, not only do I feel more calm, my friends have noticed the difference. I’ve had some friends even say they that there’s a sense of Zen about me. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I’m more engaged, more at ease and happier in social and work situations. And my blood pressure? The meditation helps to keep my numbers low and my moments of super anxiety to a minimum.

The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was not paid for their writing.