Stress affects all of us. Most of the time the stress we feel is normal. Some of us live with stress every day. Stress is bad for your physical and mental health. Meditation is a healthy way to relieve stress and create positive outcomes.
Numerous studies have established a link between meditation and stress reduction.
Stress is the body’s response to anything that challenges our comfort zone. It is important for us to recognize when we are facing a situation that triggers our stress because if we ignore those feelings, they can manifest as physical or mental health problems.
Meditation introduces mindfulness, a practice that allows us to be more present in the moment and aware of what is going on around us.
Mindfulness meditation programs have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The results from numerous studies suggest mindfulness can help manage negative emotions such as anger, regret, guilt, and confusion.
The body releases cortisol when we are under stress. Cortisol is a necessary part of our survival and adaptive response system because it activates us to respond quickly when we experience fear or anger. When cortisol levels remain high over time, it can become toxic and has long-term effects on health and well-being.
Overview of Stress
illustration of stress management infographic
Stress is natural. For the most part, our stress is what is called Eustress or good stress. Good stress is temporary and comes with good things like planning a wedding or getting ready for a vacation.
Negative stress happens when something goes wrong such as getting stuck in traffic and being late for work.
When your brain perceives a threat, the primitive brain takes over and goes into fight or flight mode. This response, the stress response, prepares your body to stay and deal with the threat or run away. The primitive brain does not know the difference between a real threat and a perceived threat. The stress response will trigger something major like a car accident or during something minor like an argument with your kids.
This is how your body reacts when that happens:
- The sympathetic nervous system is activated
- Adrenaline and noradrenaline (hormones) are released
- Increase in heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure
- The body tenses up ready for action
- It can take up to 60 minutes for your body to calm down and get back to normal.
Mindfulness is a proven method to combat stress.
Mindfulness meditation can help with stress because it changes how we respond to the world around us. When you practice mindfulness, you recognize what triggers your stress so you can prepare yourself. If you are aware of what causes your emotional response, then you can inhibit the stress response.
People who are mindful are less likely to respond to stress with runaway emotions that have negative outcomes.
According to Mindful, “We train our brain to stop automatically following this well-trodden path of habitual, unconscious reaction and instead forge a new path toward healthier responses.”
This is how mindfulness works:
- Focusing on the present moment
- Trusting that you have the capacity to handle whatever comes your way
- Releasing judgment and accepting things as they are in the moment
- Being aware of when stress is triggered and being able to recognize it when it happens.
- The best part about mindfulness is that anyone can practice it.
- There are a variety of ways to get started. One of the easiest ways is to simply start paying attention.
The next time you are in line at the grocery store or waiting for your coffee, take a moment and notice what is going on around you. Notice the colors of leaves on trees, cars passing by, sounds coming from people talking around you.
Mindful Healing of Stress
Meditation and breathing exercises can help with stress.
Here are some easy exercises to try:
Breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Get comfortable (lay down or sit up straight but comfortably). Close your eyes and focus on the sensation of breathing. Notice what you feel as you breathe in and out.
Follow along with this 10-minute meditation:
Begin by noticing what is going on around you. Next, notice your feet and how they feel as they touch the floor. Then move up to notice the sensations in your legs and hips. Continue this process of focusing on each part of your body until you’ve moved through every inch of it then slowly begin to bring yourself back into focus on the world around you.
This is a great practice for getting better at noticing your thoughts and emotions. It will help you on bad days when you feel overwhelmed or on good days when life just feels that much sweeter.
By nurturing yourself on a daily basis, you’ll have more energy to be creative, productive, and healthy!
Mindful healing is the key to taking back control over stress.
Chronic Stress Meditation
Chronic stress happens when you are under stress daily. When you are stressed out all the time, your body doesn’t get back to its normal functions, it stays in a heightened more. Chronic stress is what causes a lot of health problems. With our handpicked guided meditations for stress, you will be able to alleviate the impact of stress & anxiety on your daily life.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
Sometimes when you have chronic stress it’s not obvious because it’s your normal. These are some of the symptoms that you may be under chronic stress:
- Problems falling or staying asleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability (can be excessive)
- Digestive problems
- Change in eating habits
- The feeling that you don’t have any control
- Getting sick frequently
There are many things that can cause chronic stress some potential causes of chronic stress are:
- A demanding job with deadlines
- Financial difficulties
- Being a caregiver
- Being in a difficult relationship
- Having a chronic illness
- Stresses Impact on Health
Learning to manage your stress is important to your health. Many chronic health conditions stem from stress. When you have chronic stress, your body doesn’t get to the point where it goes back to a restful state because the stress is constant. This means that the body doesn’t get a chance to heal and repair itself. Over time, stress takes its toll on your health. A great way to learn how to manage stress is to practice meditation. Even if you are a beginner, our app will help you find comfort in meditation. Here are some of the conditions that can develop with chronic stress.
One in four deaths is related to heart disease. Coronary Heart Disease is the number one cause of death globally. Heart disease encompasses several types of heart conditions. Stress does not necessarily cause heart disease, but heart disease can be a result of stress.
When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. If you have long-term stress, the high levels of cortisol can increase cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These factors are all common in heart disease. Stress can also create changes that promote the build-up of plaque in the arteries. By practicing meditation for stress & anxiety with consistency, you will be able to handle stress in an objective way.
High Blood Pressure
Because stress raises your blood pressure, experiencing chronic stress can keep your blood pressure high for a long period of time. This can cause damage to the blood vessels. High blood pressure often does not have symptoms, but the complications are numerous including:
- Kidney disease
- Vision loss
- Heart failure
In a systematic review of blood pressure and stress, researchers concluded that individuals who had a stronger response to tasks causing stress were 21% more likely to develop a higher blood pressure increase compared to those who were less stressed when they completed tasks.
How much someone should weigh depends on several factors including age, gender, and height. Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. affecting 1 in 3 adults.
In a study done in the UK, researchers took hair samples from 2,527 men and women that equaled 2 months’ worth of hair growth. The study was done over a 4 year period. Each time researchers took a hair sample, they checked cortisol levels. They found that those individuals who had higher cortisol levels had a larger waist circumference.
In another study researchers also found a correlation between high cortisol levels and obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Other conditions that are stress-related are:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Not only our app has tens of meditations on stress & anxiety, but it also contains weight loss and eating disorders meditation. The topics include: Beat anorexia, Beating bulimia, Decrease your appetite, Eat slowly, Eating due to depression, Eliminate unhealthy eating habits, Weight loss hypnosis, and long meditation. You can also check our article on mindful eating which provides healthy eating tips.
Meditation for Stress
There are several things you can do to help manage stress but learning to manage stress with meditation will not only make you a happier person, but it will also make you a healthier person. In the late ’70s, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was born.
Meditation has since become one of the most popular ways to relieve stress. Learning to calm your body and mind can help dissolve your emotional and physical stress. After meditating you feel better and can more readily take on the challenges ahead.
Meditation involves being still and quieting the mind. Meditation sessions can be any length but should be at least 5 minutes. The more practice meditation, the more benefits you get out of it.
When you feel stressed and your body goes into the stress response, meditation does the opposite, it triggers the relaxation response. This allows the body time to repair itself so no further physical damage is done.