Being stressed clearly makes you feel bad, but it’s more than just a temporary or situational sensation. Stress has a serious physiological impact, as well, and experiencing prolonged stress can lead to an abundance of physical issues. Those who claim to experience higher levels of stress are at risk of developing health problems ranging from severe inflammation to cardiovascular disease.
We have good news, though! You do not have to suffer through high-stress situations and wait for the inevitable health problems to begin. Meditation produces a physiological response that can help you deal with stress more quickly and fight its effects.
In a 2019 study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, long term practitioners of meditation have been shown to have a more rapid cortisol recovery than their non-meditating counterparts. Cortisol is the hormone that is involved when stress occurs, both emotional and physical. Meditation helps to significantly reduce the amount of stress experienced. Usually, when stress is felt, whether at acute levels or on-going, sleep is disrupted, there is a greater chance for anxiety or depression to occur, and blood pressure can rise. It can also interfere with mental acuity, leading to a chronic fogginess, lack of focus, and fatigue.
Mediation has such a strong effect on the body that after only one session, you can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. However, it is when you integrate meditation into your daily routine on a consistent basis that you see its impact. Anxiety is one such area where you can see a substantial change. Meditation practices have been shown to reduce the symptoms felt by individuals with anxiety and panic disorders and curb anxiety associated with phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Meditation enhances self-awareness and emotional health, helping you to be your best self with a more positive outlook on life as well as support a better self-image. It can help to lengthen your attention span and assist in strengthening your memory, focus, and overall alertness. Some types of mediation can even help increase your aptitude for kindness. Your brain is trained to move away from snapping immediately to anger and instead move towards understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance.
Get Started With Stress-Relief Meditation
While there are plenty of techniques to learn, you can get started immediately with just a few steps. First, choose a quiet space. This can be a room, a bench in a garden, or another area where you can be left in solitude without risk of interruption, such as in Amrit’s meditation terrace. Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing and choose a position that you can comfortably stay in for the duration of your meditation. Cross-legged, in a chair, on a pillow, or any other position will work just fine as long as you feel at ease.
One of the primary elements of meditation is breathing. Focus on controlling your breath, inhaling slowly and deeply. This will allow your mind and body to slow down and relax. If you do nothing else throughout your meditation, focus on this. Slowly breathe in and out through your nose, filling your lungs with oxygen. Count your breaths, listen to the sound of the air entering and leaving your body, and engage your diaphragm muscle with each breath.
Choose a focal point or an object on which to place your attention, if that helps. This can keep your mind from wandering through the thoughts that can inundate you when sitting still and help you stay present in the moment. That’s not to say you can’t reflect during this point. In fact, this is the perfect time for reflection and contemplation, or to recite a mantra, affirmation, or even just a word. Don’t worry about what you think meditating looks like and simply focus on what feels right to you. Try various methods and different locations until you find the one that speaks to you and fits your meditative style.
When your mind is sharp and ready to problem-solve, paired with positive physiological responses and increased levels of empathy, it is no wonder you are better armed against stress. It is easier to accept the changes that occur around you and the unexpected obstacles life throws your way when you are mentally, emotionally, and physically in a place to handle them. It may take a while to get in the swing of a daily commitment to meditation and to learn about all the techniques that best work for you, but the benefits that come your way will be well worth it. Let Amrit’s meditative team answer any questions you may have and help you embark on your path to reducing the stress in your life.