The majority of patients who walk through our door will list stress as one of their main health complaints. Stress is a part of everyday life, but how do we handle it? It is unavoidable, and our perception and management of stress is essential to our health. It is becoming more understood that one of the best ways to manage stress and promote well-being is to devote time every day to some form of meditation or quiet time. The benefits of this stillness include:
- Reduced cortisol and blood pressure
- Improved immune function
- Reduced muscle tension
- Slower heart rate
- More regulated breathing
- Reduced anxiety and depression
Above and beyond the physical benefits of having this quiet time for yourself, there are mental and emotional benefits as well. It allows for management of emotions, and an opportunity to access the creative areas in the brain, as well as our subconscious mind. Studies have shown that meditation reduces activity in the amygdala of our brain, which controls the way we react to stress.
Patients are often intimidated by the idea of meditation, but even without a formal meditation practice, a small amount of personal quiet time, in a peaceful space, can provide you with health benefits that you will feel throughout your day.
To make it simple, try sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, or in a chair. Have your arms in a relaxed position, hands on your knees. Sit tall with shoulders relaxed, and focus on your breath in and breath out. The mind will inevitably wander, but rather than beat yourself up for having a busy mind, just observe the thought and release it, bringing your attention back to your breath. Continue to observe and release the thoughts that rise up, and refocus on the breath. Practice this daily, even if you can only fit in 5-10 minutes a day. You will feel calmer, more peaceful, and more grounded throughout your day.