Stress is emotional and physical strain in response to pressure from the outside world. Any negative situation that causes you to make rapid adjustment, such as arguing with your partner, your child or a friend, will cause stress, as well as positive events, such as moving to a new house, changing jobs or just life in general.
When you are under stress, your body reacts with the fight-or-flight response, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises and your breathing can become shallow and rapid. Stress can make you eat and drink too much, and can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle pain and skin rashes. The list is endless.
The way to bring down your stress levels is to learn to relax and an easy way to do that is to take fifteen to twenty minutes out of your day to decompress: to control your breathing, relax your muscles and focus your mind. In other words, meditate.
Meditation can lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, reduce chronic pain, calm your mind and leave you mentally alert, with increased energy. There are many different meditation techniques and it is a matter of finding one that is good for you. The following is a little something to get you started. Many people have a hard time with sitting still for fifteen to twenty minutes, so start with five.
1. Find a quiet place to sit, where you won’t be interrupted for the amount of time you start with.
2. Pick a simple word that helps you relax. Select peace, free, quiet, love or any other word that inspires you to let go.
3. Rest your hands on your lap, close your eyes and consciously relax your jaw and other muscles that you notice are tight.
4. Silently repeat your word and keep repeating it. You may notice that your mind drifts off to work, events, family, people and other parts of your life. When you notice those thoughts, just acknowledge them, gently let them go and softly return to your word again. It’s ok if you have many thoughts and spend little time on your word. Just keep bringing yourself back to your word.
5. After your time is done, open your eyes. Take a few minutes to bring yourself back into the present moment by becoming aware of your body and how it feels and the sounds around you. When you are ready, continue with your day, refreshed and revitalized.