With looming deadlines and responsibilities, no one is immune to stress. Even the most Zen-filled person you know experiences tension one way or another. What matters is the way you respond to stress and not allowing it to hold your whole life hostage.
There are many ways you can deal with stress, starting with your diet and lifestyle. Although ensuring you are eating a diet rich in superfoods can be a great preventative measure, if you’re constantly exposed to pressure-filled situations, it may not be enough. In that case, you might want to give meditation a try in order to navigate this world more at ease and stress-free.
How it works
For many, meditation might seem like a New Age approach to stress reduction. But the act of intentionally bringing the mind to stillness has been around for as long as ancient religions began. The intentions can be of a spiritual nature, or simply just to find clarity in the midst of a fast-paced culture.
You might not be aware, but stress might be making you physically ill. Aside from the lack of focus, anxiety, restlessness, anger, or irritability it can cause, Everyday Health states that it might also be the reason behind headaches, muscle tightness, or high blood pressure. Stress can cause sleep deprivation, which is linked to a variety of other conditions such as fluctuating weight, strokes, and cardiovascular diseases.
So, what’s meditation got to do with stress?
Meditation is a process of clearing the mind of clutter or stressors. Through this process, the nervous system activates what is called the relaxation response. If the fight-or-flight response puts the body on high alert, think of the relaxation response as its antidote. It puts your mind at ease and in a deep state of rest because the brain no longer perceives that it is around danger. On top of that, meditation can also change the way you react to certain situations so that it no longer causes negative feelings. This is explained as the ‘Adapt’ technique in the article, ‘Learning to Live Without Stress.’ When you reframe your perspective and look at the positive side, you will no longer feel burdened. Of course, if it’s impossible for you to adjust, you can work at avoiding such stressors altogether.
How to begin
Many find exercises like yoga and running great stress relievers. Some find sitting in a room and practicing breathing exercises as their source of relief. You can try out any of the 10 techniques suggested by OMTimes Magazine and see which one works best for you. For example, “The Time Out technique” is a form of guided visualization where you make use of imagery to bring about relaxation. The key is to enable all senses, even touch, if it calls for it. You can also try a creative form of meditation through writing or painting. Meanwhile, writing in a journal can help you reflect on the difficult events in your life.
There’s no one single way to meditate. A walk in the park for some can be more meditative than sitting quietly. You should try different techniques to determine which ones appeal to you the most. Very Well Mind reminds us that the important thing is to start slow, as training your mind to rid itself of stressors is a gradual process. Do not expect immediate results, as this can be a source of even more stress. Therefore, it is also best to start small. For example, it might be easiest to start listening to a 5 minute guided meditation (check out free apps like Calm or Insight Timer), or by exercising more gratitude throughout your day to be thankful for all the little things that actually do go right!
Now it’s YOUR turn! What’s your fave meditation style or contemplative practice?