mindfulness

Meditation: A Simple Way to Manage Stress

Most people are or have been plagued by stress in their lives. Anything from work to family issues can cause stress on a person. If stress has you feeling anxious, tense and worried then you should consider trying meditation. This is a simple and fast way to help you feel more relaxed, even spending a few minutes a day in meditation can restore your calmness.

 

Anyone can practice meditation. It requires no special equipment and you can do it virtually anywhere you feel comfortable.

 

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It was originally meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. Nowadays, meditation is typically just used for relaxation and stress reduction. It is considered a mind-body complementary medicine, producing a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. Meditation will allow you to clear away the information overload that’s built up in your mind everyday contributing to your stress. You can practice everyday by focusing on steady breathing or central thoughts.

Research suggests that there are some physical health benefits as well. Meditation may help such conditions as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma and even allergies! Meditation is not a replacement for traditional medical treatment, but may be a useful addition to your other treatments.

 

There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques to choose from. Here are a few detailed ways to meditate:

 

Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.

Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment.

Transcendental meditation. You use a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase repeatedly silently, to narrow your conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from your mind. You focus exclusively on your mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.

Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you’re encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Try out any of these techniques that you feel works best for you and what you enjoy doing. You can adapt your meditation to meet your needs at the moment. Remember there is no right or wrong way to enjoy all of the wonderful mind and body health benefits of meditation!

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6 Easy Mood Boosters

1. Make a gratitude list.

“The most effective way I know of to shake a bad mood is to brainstorm everything possible that you’re grateful for and write it down,” says Amy Wood, PsyD, author of Life Your Way. She suggests starting with broad strokes, like being thankful the sun is shining or that you’re breathing. “You’ll find that once you get the ball rolling, more and more ideas will come to you. Studies actually show that it’s impossible to feel gratitude and unhappiness simultaneously. That’s why this strategy works so well, and so quickly!”

2. Practice mindfulness.

“If you’re in a slump, you may also be stuck ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Both of these thoughts are nonproductive,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Instead, he suggests practicing mindfulness, which involves being present in the moment without judgment. “Try taking five minutes and eating your meal in a mindful way, paying attention to how it looks, smells and tastes with each bite, before swallowing it. Or take a quick mindful walk, considering the sights, smells, sounds and temperature with each step.” By focusing on the present, you’re less likely to dwell on the outside circumstances that are making you unhappy.

3. Practice a random act of kindness.

According to Dr. Rego, doing nice things for other people will make you feel good about yourself. Try holding a door open for someone else, offering a compliment or smiling at a stranger. These acts of kindness lead to positive thinking about yourself, and usually garner a positive response, like “thank you,” which can easily put a smile on your face, he says.

4. Have A Laugh

“Set up a YouTube channel with your favorite comedy sketches and comedians,” suggests Cory Bank, PhD, founder of StompStressAway.com. “Have it saved so that if you’re in a bad mood you can take a three-minute break and infuse some humor into your day.” Belly laughter will make your endorphins kick in within minutes. Plus, he notes, “you’ll feel better when you take a short break from your day-to-day reality.”

5. Eat An Orange

According to celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, foods packed with vitamin C, like citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli, are proven to cheer you up. In fact, a study published in a 2010 edition of Nutrition found that vitamin C therapy can help improve the moods of patients who are hospitalized for long-term or critical care. Dr. Sams also stresses the importance of vitamin C (as well as other antioxidants, like vitamins A and E) when it comes to boosting your mood because it helps stabilize free radicals in the body, which are known to accelerate aging and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. When these highly reactive atoms are neutralized, it prevents them from also damaging brain cells, resulting in better health and improved mood.

6. Just Breathe

Sure, we do this all day long, but breathing in a certain way has the power to relax us as well as lift us out of a slump. Dr. Sams is an advocate of diaphragmatic breathing. “Take a five-count breath in, and a five-count breath out. The goal is to manage your breath, instead of having your breath manage you.” When you breathe into your diaphragm as opposed to just your chest, which many of us do when we’re feeling stressed, you will absorb a lot more oxygen into your system. “Our brains thrive on oxygen—it’s very powerful in boosting your mood.”