For many people, stress is a part of their daily lives. Stress may occur intermittently or every day, and can be the result of one or more of the challenging obstacles life throws our way. Different personal stressors can include work-related stress, family stress, and mental and physical health stress. Sufferers of chronic stress avidly seek ways to decrease this emotional and mental strain in two distinct ways. One way to seek a reduction in stress is through healthy techniques and the other is through not-so-healthy ways techniques. The non-healthy practices include habitual habits, such as smoking, drinking, and overuse and/or abuse of medications. Healthy ways of reducing stress include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, participating in fun or relaxing activities, and exercising regularly. One of the most effective and healthy ways to reduce stress is through meditation, which is the act of taking control of the mind, thus training it to positively respond to negative experiences. Although there are various forms of mediation, such as mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, concentrative meditation, tonglen meditation, and mantra meditation to name a few, all can be used as a form of meditation for stress relief. Here are five sure-fire ways that meditation can help dramatically control and reduce your stress level.
1. Inhibits the Stress Response
When you suffer through a specific, negative event, your body responds to this “threat” or “demand” by releasing a myriad of stress hormones which include cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones prepare the body to take rapid action against the negativity by increasing the overall stress of the body. This results in increased blood pressure, blood flow, pulse rate, and rate of breathing.
Meditation, when practiced on a regular basis, helps your body remain more relaxed during times of sudden stress. This calming technique is called the “relaxation response.” It decreases anxiety and over time, allows you to achieve a much deeper sense of relaxation. Quite simply, it helps you to remain calm and focus when stressors strike.
2. Keeps your Vitals in Check
Regular meditation allows your body to be in a deep relaxation which can result in several physical health benefits. Meditation can, in effect, train your body to remain in a deep state of relaxation. This state helps keep the blood pressure at a low level, decreases metabolism, keeps the pulse rate-regulated, and the breathing calm. In addition to these important benefits, meditation can also improve your immune system, digestion, heighten your serotonin levels within the brain, and decrease any pain caused by tension, such as headaches, backaches, neck aches, muscle pain, and joint pain. By focusing your attention during meditation, you are able to take care of your body and avoid the unnecessary physical body stresses that result from mental and psychological stress.
Experiencing some of these physical neck tensions, stiffness, or muscle pains? Read our related blogs Common Causes of Neck Pain and How to Relieve a Stiff Neck to learn more and hopefully, reduce some (if not all) of your neck pain.
3. Clears the Mind
Keeping the mind clear is ideal for concentration and self-awareness. The ability to be mentally focused aids when stressful situations arise and also helps keep chronic stress at bay. Practicing a form of meditation for as few as 10 minutes each day could dramatically enlighten your mental state, keeping it positive, rational, and very aware of the many situations which you may face on a daily basis. It also enhances creativity and promotes new ideas and viewpoints in terms of your thinking. Being at the highest state of consciousness throughout the day greatly reduces your stress level.
A clear mind enables us to have an enhanced mood, hold our head higher, and improve overall neck posture, which can ultimately reduce our stress of everyday life. Stressors can bog each one of us down and inhibit us from fulfilling our true potential and dreams. This can get in the way of working towards goals or having motivation. With a clean slate, or in this case, a free mind, we can push these stressors aside and aspire to make our dreams a reality through our own motivation. We are able to gain full control and live a stress-free life.
4. Reaps Better Sleep
Although regular meditation keeps you sharp throughout the day, it also allows you to have a relaxing and restful night’s sleep. The benefits of a healthy sleep routine are many, and with meditation, your body is able to properly slip into slumber and remain deeply relaxed throughout the night. How is your body able to do this? When meditating, your mind focuses all of its attention on the present moment -- nothing from the past nor the future. During this process, your body is not only in the “zone,” but is completely still. After including meditation into your daily routine, it will be easy for your body and mind to return to the “zone” and let all your stresses go during any time of the day, especially when going to sleep. For some, it may be the idea of meditating that can reduce stress and tension, and for others, it may be a simple breathing exercise that allows us to regroup and center ourselves. Whatever your technique, it helps your mind and body recharge, giving you the ability to face whatever challenges, struggles, stress, and anxiety the next day may bring.
5. Keeps you Focused on Positivity
Waking up each morning with a sense of happiness and positivity is something that many people dream of doing each day. With daily meditation practices, this is certainly a reality for many and can be for you as well. The patterns of the brain waves remain in a state of relaxation and ignore encroaching thoughts, stresses, and worries, which can lead to a happier, more positive you. Meditation has also been shown to increase mental and physical energy and to significantly decrease lethargy and sadness. When you begin your day with positive thoughts, any stress that comes your way can be managed much more effectively.
No matter your lifestyle, stress can happen from time to time, or for some, quite often. For many of us, stress (which can include anxiety and even depression) can dramatically alter our emotional and physical well-being and overall health. Getting to the core of precisely what is causing the stress may be easy to do; however, managing and getting rid of stress altogether can be a daunting challenge with the ineffective resources. Various forms of meditation have shown time and time again to be some of the most effective resources and techniques for stress management. Practice meditation and mindfulness. Who knows? It could work wonders for your daily living, health, and well-being.