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Exploring Effective Methods For Stress Management #3: Meditation Practices

Updated: Jul 27

As part of our series of blog posts related to coping with stress, we wanted to discuss meditation & how it relates to relieving us from stress for when we need relief most.


What is meditation really? How is it possible that sitting in place all day is suppose to make us feel better?



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Let us elaborate.


When most people think of meditation they think about being still in place for a fixed period of time and all of their problems suddenly disappear, but it's a lot deeper than that.


It's an activity that allows us to control our state of being instead of being controlled by how we are feeling.


Meditation is defined as increasing calmness & physical relaxation through stillness with as little distractions as possible. Often, even focused breathing can have its benefits in conjunction with meditation.


The National Center For Complementary & Integrative Health suggests that when we meditate, the amygdala the part of our brain that regulates emotion, is more activated & helps us become more at peace with ourselves. Additionally, there's plausible evidence that neuroplasticity is increased when there's a routine of meditation involved.


If we had to break down why meditation is good for us, it allows us to collect ourselves if we're feeling down, if we're feeling a little more emotional than usual, or need to reflect more effectively. When we are in a calmer state attributed to meditation, it can feel like a hard reset in order to think more clearly on things that can cause us to feel brain fog.


Neuroplasticity is important because it allows our brain to take in new information & make connections with existing information. With meditation as a cognitive aid, it can help us make more sense & better understand the stressors in our lives. Sometimes a small event that cause us stress will feel minute after some meditation sessions. Maybe on the more extreme end, if life is feeling really overwhelming, having that cognitive boost from meditation can help us perceive issues differently in an effort to find more appropriate solutions.


We can talk about how great meditation is all day long, but without actual steps, protocols, or guidelines to help, then we could be meditating wrong & waste a fair amount of time.



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So what are some ways we can get started on meditating?


Yoga Classes:

Easily one of the most recognizable ways to engage in forms of meditation is to take classes that are available in gyms, yoga studios, outdoor parks, university classes, virtual sessions, all taught by a professional instructor. Instructors are usually there to help guide participants in order to gain the most benefit from a yoga experience.



Stretching

Most people wouldn't categorize stretching as a form of meditating, but personally this is what I do in order to recollect my thoughts while alleviating tension my body might be feeling.

The connections to make with stretching & meditation are related to maintaining posture position, breathing, & clearing up thoughts. This is useful for people who are comfortable remaining too still, who are usually active, & as an interesting method to help the body recover physically & mentally.



Hot Yoga:

This is a more unique way to partake in meditation as there's elements like increased temperature to stir up a room of yoga go-getters. Additional benefits include losing calories, increased flexibility, immune system support, & greater bone density. These may not be as common as regular yoga sessions since a specific environment is need to generate the heat. However, if you go to a search engine like Google.com, there can be hot yoga studios near your location.



App Guided Meditation:

It's abundantly clear that doing things online makes life easier & more convenient. There are apps like Headspace, Calm, & Sam Harris' Waking Up that offer guided meditation with music, lesson plans, voice narration, bringing all the experience you would get from a live session straight to your phone or desktop.


There was even a study performed involving 238 people who used Headspace as one of the tools & found that the experimental group had better mental well-being & lowered blood pressure over a 16 week period.


Check out our resources page to take a look at some of the meditation apps we recommend.



Here we discussed what meditation is, why it is good for us, and the different ways to go about it.


But like anything worthwhile, it takes time, effort & consistency for the benefits of it to be realized. It's a tool that can be used when we want to feel more relaxed or when we want to feel more in control of our emotions & make the best of ongoing stressors.


Stillness is a skill, that when mastered can allow us to handle any environment we find ourselves in.




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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only, it is important for readers to be mindful of all information presented & have their own due diligence.




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