People encounter stress every day, whether it is at work, school, or at home. You may usually be able to cope with stress, but sometimes it can become too much that you can break down because of it. On 2nd November, it is Stress Awareness Day. So, we want to talk about stress and how you can help manage it with meditation.
So, what is meditation?
Meditation is a spiritual practice that an individual can do to focus their attention and awareness. It is all about consciously relaxing your mind and body for a period of time. It is a process of focusing inwardly so that your mind is so busy concentrating on breathing and body form that there’s no time to think about the events that are causing you stress. Since meditation involves physical and mental relaxation, it’s a great way to relieve stress.
When some people hear about meditation as a way to relieve stress, they may laugh and think it’s a complete waste of time. They might think that meditation is not a viable solution to eliminating stress and that you must go to a Buddhist retreat at the top of a mountain. We are here to say that this is a complete myth!
There are large amounts of research that shows that meditation works as a practical technique for stress management. On our latest podcast episode, we loved talking with Lex Lovell, a therapist and mental health trainer, about how she works with people to help them empty their stress containers to bring a bit more calm to their life. One of her recommended coping strategies for stress is…we think you can guess it…Meditation!
Meditation is one method which can help reduce the stress levels of a person. By calming the mind and giving the person a sense of control over things, the things that are considered as threats (i.e. the things that cause stress) become easier to manage.
So how can I meditate?
Here is an easy stress meditation exercise that will only take a minute. Feel free to repeat it as many times as you need.
Close your eyes, sigh, and let your tension go out of your muscles. If you struggle to release that tension, try to tense up your muscles first and then sign to release it. Take four or five slow, deep breaths through your nose and really focus your attention on your breathing, so you can let go of your thoughts.
A tip for breathing is: Make sure you breathe through your nose.
When you breath through your mouth, it will expand your chest. But if you breathe through your nose, you can feel it expanding your abdomen. This method pulls more air into your lungs, allowing for a deeper breath, which is why it is more effective for meditation and relaxation.
What are some tips for effective meditation?
Meditation is very simple to do, and it is something that anyone can do almost anywhere.
When you prepare yourself for meditation, make sure you set aside a certain amount of time where you are guaranteed not to be interrupted. You do not need to set aside hours to practise meditation. Ten to Twenty minutes each time is definitely good enough.
Effective meditation requires that you’re in a comfortable and quiet environment. This means that when you practice meditation, you should make sure that you are wearing comfortable, unrestrictive clothing. Make sure you are at a comfortable temperature, whether you are indoors or outdoors, so you can properly relax.
Stress-relieving meditation is all about concentration. Once you are fully comfortable (sitting or lying down), it’s time to close your eyes. Then, focus your attention on your breathing and count your breaths. You can even say the numbers out loud to discourage your mind from wandering to other thoughts if that helps.
Another way to control wandering thoughts while in a meditation session is to use imagery. Imagery is very popular in meditation. All you have to do with imagery is focus on something you consider enjoyable or refreshing. Music is also a popular way to help mind concentration during meditation. Use some soothing music that features plenty of nature sounds. Avoid listening to music with lyrics as you want to focus on your breathing rather than singing along to your favourite songs.
The key to meditation is mind control. When you learn to control your mind, you can control your thoughts, and you’ll be able to better control the functions of your muscles. Sometimes it takes some time to learn not to let your mind wander to other thoughts while you’re in a meditation session. But once you’ve mastered meditation, you’ll discover you’ll be able to do it almost anywhere to relax when you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress.
So, how can I get into meditation?
There are a number of ways you can get into meditation, and you can pick the option that suits your situation and schedule.
You could try out a local meditation session and put aside that time for yourself. It gets you out of the house to a place you know won’t have any distractions. Jules does this and absolutely loves it! This option is great, especially if your home life is the reason your stress is building.
We know that people are very busy and think they don’t have time to meditate. However, if you take our simple method as an example, that can take you a minute to do. Alternatively, suppose you want to do a longer session such as 5, 10 or 20-minute or even an hour session when you wake up, during your breaks or before you sleep. In that case, plenty of meditation videos are available to you online. If you go onto YouTube and type in meditation, you will get loads of videos to come up in your search results, and you can pick the one that suits your requirements. You can access them wherever you are, and it’s completely free of charge.
You may find it difficult to meditate alone but also don’t want to join a group. Why not link up with a friend from school, a colleague or a family member? Find a convenient day and location and put it in your diary, so you don’t forget it. Having someone with you can keep you accountable too.
If you struggle to stick to meditation, try to develop a “trigger” for your meditation. For example, do your four breaths when you get into the car or right after lunch each day. These triggers are places or times that remind you, so your meditation becomes a habit.
There are so many meditation options out there, and we recommend that you try it as it has helped so many people already. It may not be your thing, but at least you can say you’ve given it a go! So, the next time you feel stressed, try calming yourself down by practising meditation.
To find out more on this topic…
Listen to our ‘M is for Meditation’ podcast episode!
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