With the madness and many distractions of society today, many find it difficult to deal with the stress this creates. Although the age-old practice of meditation has become a popular form of therapy to relieve stress, people remain skeptical. Many are led to ask, can meditation help with stress? With numerous benefits including improving immune function, slowing mental aging, and lowering stress levels, it’s clear that there is a relationship between meditation and relieving stress. Join many others in making meditation a part of your daily routine as a quick-fix stress reliever that will leave you feeling calmer, refreshed, and ready to tackle the challenges of the day with a positive attitude.
When people hear the word meditation they often picture someone sitting with their legs crossed and making an “ummm” sound. Meditation is a lot simpler than this, and there are many misconceptions about what it really entails. Meditation is simply the practice of using different techniques to help people achieve a heightened state of attentiveness and awareness. This is generally done through focused breathing and mindfulness. Meditation sessions can be done anywhere at any time although there are greater benefits associated with more frequent sessions, particularly in a quiet or controlled environment.
Studies have shown that the body’s stress response automatically leads the body to react in ways that ready you to run or fight. This constant agitation to your body can lead to physical damage and deterioration. Rather than triggering your stress response, meditation does the opposite by engaging your relaxation response. It helps to restore the body and repair itself from the damage and negative effects that stress has caused. The continued and regular practice of meditation helps build resilience to stress. With less reactivity toward stress, you are able to sustain a positive mood for longer. When you fall into a stressful pattern or are burdened with negative thoughts, you can more easily refocus your energy through practicing meditation.
If outright meditation isn’t for you, you can find inner calm and help with stress by focusing on other hobbies. Photography is a prime example. People often find it relaxing. Your mind is focused on getting a good photo for your albums and it's a solitary task, with few distractions. Especially if you’re a nature photographer. You can quite easily get lost in a hobby and it’ll have the same effect as general meditation. You’ll also get something out of photography. For example, you’ll be able to fill photo books full of prized photos. You can gift them to others or keep them for yourself. There’s nothing like looking at physical prints. Looking through the albums can also be a form of meditation all by itself.
Reversing your stress response and lowering stress levels are only 2 of the many health benefits associated with meditation. In addition, practicing meditation helps you use oxygen more efficiently, improves your immune function, slows your breathing and heart rate, normalizes your blood pressure, and lowers the levels of cortisol produced by your body. Furthermore, studies have found that those who meditate on a consistent basis find it easier to give up damaging habits such as drinking, drugs, and smoking. The answer to the question “can meditation help with stress?” is yes.
When beginning to add meditation into your daily routine, many focus on the act itself and try to be “perfect”. Don’t worry about the specific position you are sitting in, the technique you use, how long you do it, the time of day you do it, etc. Instead, simply just sit and meditate. There is no such thing as doing it “right” as meditation can look different for everyone. The focus of meditation isn’t the position you sit in, it’s about controlling and redirecting your thoughts to achieve greater attentiveness and awareness.
In order to fully experience the benefits of mediation, you must be consistent. Consistent practice is a lot more important than long practice. Consider meditating multiple times a week for 5-10 minutes rather than only meditating once during the week for a longer period of time. Doing it multiple times a week allows you to slow your stress response several times during the week while doing it once only calms it once.
When asking yourself “can meditation help with stress?”, consider what you’ve learned from this article. Set aside a few minutes, meditate, be consistent, and experience the positive effects of reversing your body’s stress response.