Chronic Stress is a Killer
When our fight or flight response is triggered every day through work, personal or environmental stresses, the result is a steady stream of stress hormones in our body. Both the direct stress response and the accumulation of visceral fat can promote systemic inflammation and oxidative stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress contributes to:
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
- Memory impairment
- Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
Most people alleviate their stress with things like alcohol, emotional eating, or prescription drugs. These are merely band-aids that ultimately cause more problems of their own, and are not an appropriate long-term solution.
Practice Daily Meditation
It has been scientifically documented that meditation lowers blood pressure by allowing you to completely relax your body and clear your mind.(1) Meditation reportedly reduces stress-induced hormones in the blood, alleviating anxiety, anger and many types of illness. (2, 3,4,5) So meditation not only helps with reducing daily stress, it helps with physical healing.
When people start meditating for the first time, they usually don’t feel like anything is happening. Our minds tend to wander to random thoughts, suddenly remembering grocery lists or work related tasks. If this happens to you after a few times of trying to meditate, don’t get discouraged. Like everything else, meditation takes practice. If you practice even 5-10 minutes of meditation each day, soon you find the peacefulness carries with you throughout the day.
Beginner Meditation Techniques
The beauty of meditation is that we can practice it most anywhere and anytime. No complicated positions or equipment is required. If you get interrupted by noises or if your nose starts to itch (this happens to me), just acknowledge the disturbance and go back to your meditative state.
Simple Steps to Get Started Meditating
- Get in a comfortable seated position with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor.
- Either close your eyes or focus on a nearby object or picture. I love to meditate on the beauty of a flower.
- Close your mouth and touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
- Breathe at a natural and comfortable pace in and out of your nose, filling your lungs with each breath.
- Inhale to a count of 4.
- At the top of your inhale, hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Exhale completely to the count of 4 until all air is exhaled.
- Hold your breath for another count of 4.
- Repeat this for at least 5 minutes.
As simple as the above breathing exercise sounds, keeping focus on it for a few minutes can drop you into a meditative state. The counting of the breath gives you mind something to put its attention on so that it doesn’t get scattered with a myriad of other thoughts.
More Ways to Reduce Oxidative Stress
Meditation is a valuable tool for you to improve your overall health. But it is only one of many ways you can reduce oxidative stress and the biological pathways resulting chronic degenerative disease.
Read my blog How to Reduce Oxidative Stress in Our Lives to find out what they are.
1. Goldstein CM, Josephson R, Xie S, Hughes JW. Int J Hypertens. 2012;2012:578397. Epub 2012 Mar 5. Current perspectives on the use of meditation to reduce blood pressure. Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA.
2. Martarelli D, Cocchioni M, Scuri S, Pompei P. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jul;17(7):623-8. Epub 2011 Jun 20. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces postprandial oxidative stress. School of Pharmacy, Unit of Experimental Medicine and Public Health, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy
3. Basavaraj KH, Navya MA, Rashmi R. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Jul Stress and quality of life in psoriasis: an update.Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore-570015, Karnataka, India
4. Mohan A, Sharma R, Bijlani RL. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Mar;17(3):207-12. Epub 2011 Mar 9. Effect of meditation on stress-induced changes in cognitive functions. Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
5. Vandana B, Vaidyanathan K, Saraswathy LA, Sundaram KR, Kumar H. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:379645. Epub 2011 Jan 20.Impact of integrated amrita meditation technique on adrenaline and cortisol levels in healthy volunteers. Department of Physiology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Amrita Lane, Ponekkara P.O., Cochin 682 041, Kerala, India
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