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Meditation for Stress Relief- 8 Strategies to Help
Stress occurs when a person becomes overwhelmed by and unable to cope with external events. The symptoms of stress vary between individuals but commonly include irritability, lethargy, fatigue, tension, nervousness, anxiety, sleep problems, and poor concentration. Levels of stress vary, and some people may feel relief when a certain external influence is eradicated, whereas others may experience worsening symptoms which can have chronic detrimental effects to their health. Long periods of stress are harmful to a person’s well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Meditation helps to counter-act symptoms of stress by restoring inner balance and harmony, providing the mind and body with the opportunity to regenerate. Additionally, it can help to achieve perspective on problems, minimize their impacts and thus alleviate causes of stress. The effects will still be there, but the way in which a person reacts and responds to them will be different.
Find a quiet space where you can practice undisturbed. A beginner should aim to spend between five and twenty minutes meditating. Longer periods may lead to boredom and dissatisfaction.
Make sure that you are in a comfortable position before you attempt to enter a meditative state. If you are not comfortable your mind will wander to the physical sensations that cause you discomfort rather than being able to focus on the task at hand.
2. How to Start
Start each session by consciously moving through your muscle groups and relaxing them. You should feel more relaxed as you envisage tension flowing out of your body and energy levels increasing.
3. Be Present
Bring your mind to the here and now. Be completely in the present moment, without thinking about the past or the future. By not thinking about what has already happened or what may happen, you are better prepared to enter a state of calm and relaxation.
You can focus on an object during your meditation. Look at it, see it, examine it. Any object can be used for this purpose, as long as it is your sole center of attention. Think about the color, shape, outline, contours, texture and motions of your chosen thing.
You could also choose to focus on a sound. Some people find repeating affirmations is useful, others find a repetitive sound more effective, whilst others prefer to mediate to soothing music.
Perhaps you would prefer to focus on your own breathing as a means of keeping your mind in check. Whichever way works for you is fine, so long as you are not allowing your mind to wander too much.
5. Wandering Minds
If your mind does start to stray, do not panic or be too hard on yourself. Training your mind to stay focused takes practice and patience, and you will find that with time your ability to effectively meditate will increase and you will be able to remain in an undisturbed space for longer periods of time. When you realize that you are losing concentration and giving your thoughts to other matters try and concentrate solely on the rhythm of your breathing.
If an object is your focus, just return your thoughts to the object and let other matters just drift away. Similarly, if your focus is a sound or affirmation, return to that.
6. Emotion Overload
Some people may experience unanticipated feelings or over-whelming emotions when meditating. If this happens, try not to become lost in those thoughts, rather acknowledge them, accept them and then continue focusing on the here and now.
7. Overcoming Difficulties
Some people find it useful to join a meditation group in order to reap the most benefits from stress relief focused meditation techniques.
For self-meditation methods, improvement will come with practice. Have patience and persevere and you will soon find that you able to meditate effectively.
8. How it Helps
Meditation helps people to relax, which can in turn lower stress levels and provide some relief. It can work fairly quickly in relieving stress and does not require any specialist tools or equipment. There are no potential side-effects and it is a natural remedy.
Whilst meditating, breathing slows down and the heart rate is reduced. Blood pressure stabilizes and oxygen is more effectively distributed around the body. Regular practice can slow aging of the mind and boost immunity. Creativity increases, and people have a greater sense of focus and overall well-being. It is sometimes easier for people to change negative habits.