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Meditation And Mindfulness – Stress Relievers You Should Know About

Meditation And Mindfulness – Stress Relievers You Should Know About
Meditation And Mindfulness – Stress Relievers You Should Know About
Wed Jul 4

Stress is a very common health problem in the United Kingdom.

A recent study of more than 4,700 subjects performed by YouGov found that in the last year, 74% of people have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Stress is a particularly insidious condition because it contributes to other health problems including depression, obesity, anxiety, heart disease, and substance abuse.

Simply put — if you try to ignore your stress, it will damage your health in a number of ways.

Fortunately, there are some very effective remedies for stress available. One of the most effective techniques is mindfulness.

In basic terms, mindfulness is the act of focussing your complete attention on the present moment.

It is a valuable therapeutic technique that has been proven to relieve stress.

Mindfulness can be achieved in a number of ways, including meditation.

This article will share some useful information about meditation and mindfulness.

We’ll explain the danger that stress presents and how meditation can help you reduce your stress levels and enjoy a happier life.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal biological and physiological response that occurs when a person is facing a threat that they feel they cannot deal with.

It is designed to increase awareness and alertness — helping you deal with a potentially life-threatening problem.

When you are stressed, the hypothalamus (a tiny region in the brain) will trigger a series of biological responses.

It will start by prompting the adrenal glands to release various hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline.

Adrenaline will immediately increase the body’s heart rate, blood pressure and energy supply — which is helpful in flight-or-fight situations.

Cortisol plays a more complex role, triggering a number of mechanisms including:

  • Making the liver release glucose into the blood stream so it is available for energy
  • Enhancing the brain’s ability to make use of glucose, which improves alertness and speeds up thought processes
  • Forcing the release of substances that help with tissue repair
  • Curbing bodily functions that are seen as non-essential or unhelpful in a flight-or-fight situation. This includes changes to the immune system, digestive system, and the processes that manage growth.
  • Changing the way you think, altering your motivations, mood, and fears

Under normal circumstances, your stress response will finish when the perceived threat is gone.

Hormone levels return to normal and your body returns to its natural state.

Unfortunately, people who suffer from stress feel constantly under threat.

Their body will continually react like it is in a flight-or-fight situation and often release stress hormones.

That means the body’s heart rate will always be elevated, there will always be a lot of glucose in the blood stream, the immune system will be impaired and so on.

This can eventually lead to a variety of health problems, including:

  • Obesity
  • Headaches
  • Heart Disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • Problems concentrating

How meditation and mindfulness reduce stress

As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, mindfulness is the simple act of paying attention to the present moment.

There are many ways to achieve mindfulness. You can be mindful when you are eating, reading, listening to music, focusing on your sense of touch, or by meditating.

The simple act of focussing on the present removes the persistent negative thoughts that may be causing stress in your life.

Mindfulness also helps you accept your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in a completely non-judgemental way.

To put it another way, mindfulness is like giving your brain a regular spring clean — clearing out the thoughts that might be making you anxious, angry, upset, or stressed out.

It then helps you process those recurring thoughts and feelings more efficiently if they pop up again.

In addition to helping you process your thoughts, mindfulness and meditation help to relieve stress in other ways:

Mindfulness helps you deal with potentially stressful situations

Mindfulness will make you less emotionally reactive when encountering a problem.

Instead of immediately hitting the “panic button” and becoming stressed, you will be able to control your emotions more easily and deal with the problem.

You will be more aware of your body

One of the great benefits of mindfulness meditation is that it helps you learn more about your own body.

You are more likely to notice any pains that your body is experiencing and deal with them before they become a source of stress.

It will be easier to relate to other people

Stress is often caused by relationship problems.

Mindfulness helps by making you more perceptive to the emotional requirements of other people.

You will find yourself listening more intently to the people you love and being more capable of having a positive and joyful relationship with them.

The can remove a huge amount of stress from your life.

Your ability to focus will improve

Meditation and other mindfulness practices require you to focus your thoughts on a single sensation — be it how you are breathing or what sounds you are listening to.

This increases your ability to focus.

This makes your productivity levels skyrocket, which helps you get things done and reduces work or study stress.

Mindfulness has been proven to reduce activity in the amygdala

Researchers have discovered that mindfulness practices like meditation will reduce activity in the amygdala — a part of the brain that switches on the stress response.

There are many more articles about mindfulness and meditation on our site if you are interested in learning more.

Zen habits also has an excellent guide which shares some tips for beginners interested in mediation.

Thanks for reading!