Are you suffering from stress these days? Do you roll around in bed, struggling with falling asleep? Is stress taking over your life? It might be time to reduce stress. How? Through meditation! In this blog, we explain how meditation helps you to reduce stress.
The multiple functions of meditation
Meditation is an age-old practice and a powerful way to relieve stress and help you remain centered amid the stressors in your daily life. It can be used to relieve stress in people from all walks of life and can be practiced in several ways depending on your needs.
• You can use it as a quick stress reliever to counter the body’s stress response and to bring about physical relaxation.
• You can use it in a daily routine to help increase your resistance to stress.
• You can use it to help you get centered if you should be caught off guard by emotional stress.
How does stress work?
In our daily lives, we experience stressful situations that cause our body to react with a stress response that is referred to as the fight or flight response. If we are in danger this response may help us to act appropriately to avoid being hurt.
At other times the stress response is not caused by such physical or extreme danger but may still result in negative physical changes within your body. Instances of such stress include daily hassles of being stuck in traffic, barking dogs keeping you awake at night, finding out you have a serious illness or losing a loved one.
These instances may trigger the stress response that may cause your heart to beat faster, your blood sugar may arise, the blood supply to your organs may be reduced, and your breathing may accelerate.
How meditation helps you manage stress
Meditation has the opposite effect that stress has on our bodies. It creates the body’s relaxation response that helps create a state of calm that prevents physical harm to us. Meditation works to calm stress-induced thoughts that result when the stress response is triggered in us.
By making meditation a regular practice we can develop the ability to recover easily from stressful situations in our lives and prevent us from suffering from chronic stress.
The first thing you must realize is that stress is not beyond your control. Most of the stress you will experience, such as caring for an elderly parent or working with difficult people in the office, comes from the demands of your daily life. Because these conditions are often on-going they can easily lead to chronic stress which may take its toll on your happiness and your health.
Practicing meditation allows you to calm your mind and body and get rid of emotional stress. You will feel refreshed and better able to deal with the daily challenges with a better attitude.
How do you meditate?
To meditate you sit in a relaxed position to clear your mind and to focus on just one thing. That one thing may be a sound such as “ooommm” or a mantra, counting your breathing or even nothing at all. With this technique, your mind will not be distracted by every thought that comes to your attention. If a thought takes you away from your meditation, acknowledge it and get back to focusing on your counting or breathing.
You should set aside 5-20 minutes in a quiet place to meditate. Although a longer period spent may give you a greater benefit, it may be intimidating when you are first starting. It will be easier to complete a shorter period such as just five minutes.
As you become more comfortable with the process you can increase the time spent on meditation.
Start with a 5-minute meditation while counting
- You may use a timer and set aside 5 minutes to meditate.
- Relax your body.
- Count to 5 while inhaling slowly from the belly into the ribs, into the chest to the crown of your head. Hold the breath for the fifth count.
- Count to 5 while exhaling slowly from the head, chest, and ribs. Hold the breath on the fifth count.
- Repeat these steps for 5 minutes.
- Focus on your breathing while you visualize tension leaving your body from your head to your feet.
Benefits of meditation
Meditating regularly can improve your overall well-being and even help you manage certain health conditions. Here are some benefits of meditation.
- It calms down your stress response and prevents chronic stress.
- It normalizes your blood pressure.
- It slows your heart rate and breathing.
- It improves your immune system.
- It causes your adrenal glands to produce less of the stress hormone cortisol.
- It helps clear your mind and increase your creativity.
- It promotes relaxation and more restful sleep.
- It promotes deeper breathing.
- It decreases inflammation.
- It increases attention and focus.
Meditation is possible for everyone
Using meditation to reduce stress compares very well to other stress reduction methods. Meditation has no side effects, no special equipment is required, you do not need the help of a professional and it can be practiced free of charge. Even if you are physically challenged, it is still possible for you to practice meditation as it does not require any strenuous physical activity to get the stress relief that you seek. If you are ready to get started with meditation right away, why not try this guided meditation?