Stress can take a significant toll on our overall health, often causing various negative symptoms and exacerbating any existing conditions. Although our bodies are naturally equipped to handle small doses of stress, excessive or chronic stress can feel almost impossible to manage. Unfortunately, many people believe there is nothing they can do to combat stress, or stress management treatments require too much time and money. Luckily, there are quick and inexpensive options to help reduce your stress level.
Meditation has gained newfound popularity as a different way of dealing with stress that focuses on calming the mind and body. Currently practiced by 1 in 6 American adults, meditation dates back thousands of years and has a long history of promoting physical relaxation and enhancing overall health.
The word “meditation” is essentially an umbrella term for many different relaxation techniques and is most often considered a complementary form of medicine. During meditation, you focus your attention inward, eliminating outside distractions and the racing thoughts that are causing your body stress. The result is a deep state of relaxation, a tranquil mind, and enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Meditation has maintained popularity over the years because it’s convenient, inexpensive, and accessible to everyone. The primary goal of meditation is to give you a sense of calm and peace, improving your emotional and physical well-being. These benefits also carry into the rest of the day after a meditation session ends, helping you focus and leading to a renewed sense of self. The major emotional benefits of meditation are:
- Increased happiness and emotional stability
- Increased patience and tolerance
- Increased self-awareness
- Heightened imagination and creativity
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Decreased irritability
- Improved memory
Recent studies have also shown that practicing meditation could be helpful for specific medical conditions, especially those that are worsened by stress. For example, meditation may help manage symptoms of:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
How to Start?
If you’re new to meditation, you may believe that you have to do it the “right” way to see actual results. Unfortunately, this will likely add to your stress and make it more challenging to incorporate meditation into your everyday routine. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The goal is to reduce your stress level and help you feel better overall. If you’d prefer a more structured environment, you can find a nearby meditation center or attend group classes led by trained instructors. However, you can also practice meditation on your own – completely free.
Although there are many different types of meditation, they all include four common elements: a quiet place with little to no distractions, a comfortable position, a focus of attention such as your breath, a word, or a phrase (sometimes called a mantra), and an open attitude towards the process.
To start, find a quiet place and begin to take deep breathes. If you become distracted by a noise or a thought, attempt to re-direct your focus to breathing. Meditation is a practice, not a skill. Start slowly by meditating for just 5-10 minutes each day, then gradually work your way up to 20 or 30 minutes per day. With some experimentation, you’ll eventually figure out which types of meditation work best for you.
Mental Health and Telehealth
Although meditation is not a replacement for traditional medical treatment, it can be beneficial as an addition to your existing treatment plan. Meditation can improve mental health, which ultimately leads to reduced stress and better overall physical health. Our Emerest Connect specialists recommend meditation for any patient who is dealing with stress or anxiety. Contact us today to learn more about how meditation could help you or your loved one.