Stress is one of the major issues that greatly affect our lives. It can make us lose touch with the people we love, undermine our health and even reduce the rate of productivity at work, which can destroy our lives in the long run.
And learning how to reduce it is of utmost importance as we will always have challenges that are potential causes of stress. How we handle them in order to keep stress at bay is needing for everyone.
Meditation is among the best ways to reduce stress, anxiety and depression along with other negative feelings. We take a look at how the practice helps with in this area.
How Stress Comes About And Its Effects
Stress is among the global issues affecting human beings. Studies by the American Physiological Association (APA) show that the rate at which people get stressed is rising through the years (1)
And some of the main causes according to the study are money and work. Although, many people get stressed by different things and they get affected differently, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Some of the effects of stress include headaches, increased depression, high blood sugar, fatigue, cloudy thinking, low sex drive, insomnia, tensed muscles and even fertility issues, just to mention a few.
Stress occurs when someone feels they can’t handle the pressure that various aspects of their lives bring to them.
When this happens, they feel overwhelmed by the issue proving to be too difficult for them to handle together with the other demands of everyday life.
This causes increased production of the stress hormone called Cortisol, which in turn causes the release of cytokines. Cytokines are chemicals that cause inflammation in the body which contribute to the damaging effects of stress.
Life has its own challenges and we cannot avoid that, but we have the ability to better the way we look at the hardships and the way we handle them that may help reduce stress in a huge way.
There are many methods that can help with this including social support, exercising and meditation.
How Meditation Helps Reduce The Stress
When it comes to meditation and stress, training in mindfulness and doing mindfulness meditation as well as transcendental meditation has shown to be beneficial for many people who struggle with stress alongside other health conditions (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7).
Meditation addresses the condition of stress in many ways, making the meditator strong enough to not only overcome the stress they are in but also improve their ability to see the stress coming and handle it much better.
Studies on the power of meditation in alleviating stress are numerous and have revealed that the practice is one of the best tools for stress reduction (8).
Meditation helps to relieve stress by:
* Creating the right mental space for stress management – Meditation helps create the space in our minds that allows us to have the clarity we require to set our priorities right. Doing this enables us to know what priorities to take care of first as well as what not to bother ourselves with.
This in turn helps us release the mental burden that gets us overwhelmed.
* Training our brains and increasing mental resources – Meditation trains the mind and contributes to brain plasticity that helps the mind be able to adapt to change, new life experiences and situations easily. Brain plasticity allows us to respond better to difficult situations in our lives (9).
* Giving us good control over our emotions – Through meditation, we are able to become aware of our emotions and how we react to various life events. The awareness also provides us the space to react better to things we were previously thrown off the balance by. We gain power over our emotions and response which aids in stress management.
* Increasing our levels of relaxation – Meditation puts the mind and body into a deep relaxation state while still keeping the mind wakeful. By redirecting attention from stressful thoughts to object of focus in meditation, our high leaves of stress are brought down. Also, it helps us grow mentally strong automatically and equips us well to keep stress away (10)(11)(12)(13).
* Increasing the number of neurotransmitters for well-being – Through meditation, we get into a state of deep rest which stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine that improve your state of focus, peace, inner calmness and a feeling of fulfillment.
* Improving focus and maintaining attention on one thing for long – Our minds tend to jump from one thought to another, and when you are stressed, it is one stressful thought to another. Meditation helps you increase your focus levels and direct as well as maintain your attention to one thought and task and finish it successfully and move to the other, which helps in curbing stress (14)(15).
How to Make Meditation Help You Fight Stress
Meditation is a fairly simple exercise to do and it only requires you to know well how the type of meditation you are doing is supposed to be done, and from there, you will need to be committed and practice it frequently for you see the benefits of stress reduction and the other benefits it comes with.
Mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation are some of the best types of meditation that help people deal with stress and its harmful effects.
Also, practicing mindfulness every so often helps to build awareness of yourself and your emotions.
One meditation therapy that can help with stress reduction is the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program by Jon Kabat Zinn, that seeks to train people how to remain mindful and other mental based trainings that improve the mental, physical and emotional health (16).
Engaging in regular meditation is beneficial as it keeps you mental health in shape just like you go to the gym to keep your physical health in shape.
We encourage you to pick one of these strategies we have mentioned above and work seriously with them to help you manage and ultimately get rid of stress in your life.
In essence, meditation is a good practice that can go a long way in reducing many health problems in your life.
You should consider making meditation a daily habit for you if you wish to live a happy, healthy and peaceful life in the middle of the chaotic world we live in.