We all have stress. It is prevalent in today’s fast paced society. But stress, if unmanaged, can kill you….slowly, painfully.
Did you know that the National Institutes of Health say that 80% of illnesses are caused by stress, directly or indirectly?
Stress increases the release the powerful hormones into your system that can cause high blood pressure, higher heart rate and faster breathing. When this happens over a prolonged time, your immune system is depressed.
Some of the common negative effects of prolonged stress include fatigue, pain in the muscles and joints, depression, anxiety, headache, mental confusion, and irritability. These stress reactions cause your body to use too much energy, which can eventually result in physical and mental weakness.
Think about the all the negative effect of stress. Do you want to manage your stress, and become healthier, stress free? I hope your answer is yes.
The best way to manage stress is to meditate. Did you know that at Stanford University, an analysis of 146 meditation studies was done. The conclusion was that meditation was not only beneficial at the time of practice, but that it significantly reduced anxiety as a character trait. Most of the studies focused on transcendental meditation, but it’s probable most methods have similar results. (Reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957974, 1989.) There is a book about how meditation changes your brain, How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew B. Newberg, Mark Robert Waldman. That book studies, among other things, how meditating from a Christian perspective changes your brain and your life.
In other words, meditation really can help you defend yourself against stress and anxiety. Deeper meditation probably has the most beneficial effects, but what if you’re short on time, or uncertain about learning to meditate? No worries. There are two simple techniques you can learn in a few minutes, and start using today.
First, there is a breathing meditation. It starts with just closing your eyes, and letting the tension drain from your muscles. Then let go of your thoughts, as much as you can, and breathe deeply through your nose, paying attention to your breath. When thoughts and sensations arise, acknowledge them and return your attention to your breath as it goes in and out. That’s it. Just do this for five or ten minutes.
The second technique is a mindfulness meditation. When you are feeling stress and anxiety, stop whatever you’re doing, and take three deep breaths. Then watch your mind until you identify what is bothering you. Maybe you’re worried about something? There could be a letter you need to write, or your neck could be sore. Try to identify every little irritation.
Then do something with these stressors. Make a call that’s on your mind, take an aspirin, and put things on tomorrow’s list. Maybe the best you can do is recognize that there’s nothing you can do right now – so do that. Take care of each irritation, so you can let it go. Your anxiety will diminish immediately.
Practice, and you’ll get better at finding what’s just below the surface of consciousness, bothering you. Once you address these things, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and you’ll feel more relaxed and able to think clearly. Try it now. It’s a powerful way to reduce your stress and anxiety.