How Meditation Can Help with Stress
Here’s one word we all hate and can relate to: stress. With the demands of everyday life, plans often don’t turn out as planned and we lose our cool. It’s normal because of our emergency response system, which human beings developed since the cavemen days for survival. The problem is it hasn’t adapted to recognize between genuine life-threatening situations and psychological warnings.
Meditation gives you back the reigns on this mental alarm setup and recalibrates it. To understand how it helps, you need a good understanding of what happens in your body when under stress.
Effects of Stress
People have different reactions to stress but there’s a uniform physiological reaction. When a situation is flagged by your mind as stressful, these are what occur inside you:
- A release of cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Muscles tense
- Shortness of breath
- Heightened senses and reaction time
These are useful in the short-term but long exposure to stress takes a toll on the mind and body. Some of these results are the following:
- Problems with focus, memory and rational thought
- Development of pessimism and anxiety
- Depression and moodiness
- Diarrhea, nausea, and chest pains
- Colds or other illnesses
- Low to no sex drive
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of sleep or oversleeping
- Resorting to alcohol and other vices to destress
Before you start to worry, remember that you can always avoid the effects if they haven’t manifested yet. If you already have any of those listed, meditation can minimize the risk of prompting these and worsening your conditions.
How Meditation Relieves Stress
Just as stress has corresponding hormones, meditation releases specific hormones to counter them. These are GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Collectively, they boost your sense of pleasure, soothe you, turn off the brain cells activating fear and anxiety, and give you that “runner’s high.” As a result, these are what you should expect:
- A greater sense of calm throughout the day
- Better sleep when it’s time for bed
- Sharper attention and focus
- Release of repressed emotions
- Increased empathy
- Improved self-awareness
It surprises many to know that a great way of handling stress and preventing it is an easy daily exercise that takes only a few minutes. Using these few minutes is essential for us to create head space for what’s really important and filter the false alarms. If you’re not confident meditating on your own, there are tools such as mala beads, ebooks, and audio to help guide you.