An easy way to reduce the negative effects of stress
We all know stress is bad for you - the media scare us with danger stories of what stress can do to us all the time. Are you even stressing about being stressed?
If so, here are a few things we can all do to take control, but firstly, what is stress?
Stress has been around since we were cavemen, and isn’t all bad. In fact, it was this natural reaction which allowed us to fight off dangerous animals or find shelter during a sudden storm! Stress is a complex set of mind and body responses which is activated when something is life threatening, and helps us stay and fight or run to safety!
In modern day life, however, stress has become a constant, even though most situations we face are not life threatening. Hiding from our bosses, bill payments, traffic jams, exams and report deadlines never go away and put us in state of chronic stress.
In cavemen times, the hormones created by the stress response would be cleared through our bodies by the energy used to run away or fight, and your hormone levels would return to normal fairly quickly. Today’s stresses are not so easy to run away from, and therefore the hormones stay at a peak level, costing us our health. Any non-essential function such as immunity, digestion and fertility shut down and as a result we get sick easier, age faster and struggle to have families, adding to our stress levels.
Not much fun is it?
The number one way to fight stress
Just as easily as we succumb to the negative effects of stress, we can also use various alternative therapies to ward this off, if we choose to. The art of simple meditation has been scientifically proven to shut down the high-gear stress response so many of us struggle with, and this is the focus for today.
Meditation is the perfect antidote. Chronic stress changes brain structure and function, whereas meditation is known to affect the brain in a unique way and can reverse the negative effects of a modern stressful life.
Did you also know that stress can be one of the root causes of fibromyalgia, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep problems? Studies have found that regular mediation used to reduce stress can prevent and even reverse these conditions. It can also reduce severe anxiety and emotional disorders.
The good news is you don’t have to be an expert, or perfect this technique over a long period. A study published in 2011 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine found negative biomarkers such as heart rate and cortisol levels were significantly improved after just one 20 minute session of guided mediation.
3 easy steps to reverse the effects of stress
This is a much easier way to get started for those who have trouble clearing their minds, or think mediation involves sitting it a quiet room for hours at a time.
STEP 1: Find a quiet place, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This could be the spare room at home, the car before going into the office, or the bathroom at Costa Coffee!
STEP 2: Set a timer using your phone. This will allow you to really focus on what you are doing without being paranoid you are going to be late or disturbed. Start with just one or two minutes at a time. Sit in a comfortable position, or lie down if you can.
STEP 3: Simply focus on your breathing. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4, and breathe out for 4 counts. Repeat for the set time. Don’t worry if your thoughts wander, just acknowledge the thought, and let it go, and return your focus to the breath. This gets easier with practice!
Simple – nothing complicated in this method, and if you have 2 minutes and somewhere quiet you can practice as often as you like.
Don’t underestimate the power of this free and simple process. Just one session will see an improvement in your stress levels, blood pressure and anxiety. You will feel calmer and be able to cope with daily tasks with a much happier approach.
Your body and mind will thank you.