The Benefits Of Using Meditation To Cope With Stress
Life comes with its fair share of troubles, hard times and loss. Nobody is immune to life’s challenges, however, some of us deal with them better than others, our reactions under difficult circumstances being subject to how our individual bodies respond to stress.
When you’re stressed out your body releases cortisol and adrenaline hormones that cause your heart rate to spike, your blood sugar levels to increase, and the supply of blood to your organs decrease. Your body’s immune system weakens and your breathing heightens.
It’s important to note that the hormone cortisol, released during times of stress, is responsible for causing an increase of fat deposits around the organs. This fat causes a decrease in the body’s insulin resistance, increases inflammation and causes syndrome X.
Chronic stress can also prompt the body to age faster, sponsoring a change in the genetic structure of the chromosomes. Other notable health problems associated with stress include:
- Memory loss
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
Therefore, it is safe to assume that chronic stress takes a toll on the health and happiness of an individual.
Contrary to popular belief, stress management is not beyond our control. While many of the events that trigger stress are of an external nature, stress is an internal response to what the body perceives to be a threat or an unfulfilled need.
Therefore it’s not people or things that cause us to be stressed, rather it’s the stories we tell ourselves concerning those things or people. Although there are many ways of managing stress, one of the most common is meditation. But how exactly does meditation help one cope with stress?
For starters, by reversing the effects of stress. Many people meditate to cancel out external noise. Meditation can bring you to a place where your mind and body experience a state of restful alertness. In this state, although your body may be rested your mind is fully awake and alert. This, in turn, causes the body to experience the following:
- Reduced heart rate
- Normal blood pressure
- Reduced production of cortisol and adrenaline
- Improved immunity
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved breathing
- Better oxygen circulation
Recent studies have shown that the effects of one week’s worth of meditation can last up to 10 months. Regular meditation gradually reduces the effects of chronic stress returns the body back to its original state of health.
- Meditation increases the body’s neurotransmitters
Meditation causes the brain to release various neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and endorphins. These transmitters heighten one’s mental focus and inner calm, providing a person with a better sense of inner peace. There are no known drugs that cause the simultaneous release of these neurotransmitters the way meditation does.
- Meditation improves relaxation and sleep
Studies have shown that lack of sleep can cause a surge in stress and biliousness. Meditation is an effective way of dealing with insomnia, which negatively affects the physical and emotional health of a person.
During meditation, the brain releases alpha and beta waves that help promote deep relaxation. It is this sense of calm that causes one to feel restful and want to sleep.
- Meditation improves mental focus and attention
Multitasking is one of many things that encourages people to feel stressed. Neuroscientists have proven on numerous occasions that the brain is incapable of multitasking. Meditation helps the brain to focus.
This is because, during meditation, your brain is concentrated on keeping your body relaxed irrespective of the fact that there could be distractions around you. Therefore, meditating frequently makes you more effective at tasks and less prone to stress.
- Meditation improves one’s emotional state
Meditation makes you more aware of your thoughts and feelings, teaching you to see things objectively rather than emotionally. This helps you have better emotional reactions to stressful events and leads to a sense of calm and joy.
Managing your emotions allows you to better understand yourself and the people around you. This doesn’t mean that you need to suppress your feelings in order to achieve a sense of inner peace.
On the contrary, it calls for you to be true to what you’re feeling and experiencing. It’s the inner peace achieved through meditation that helps you to better handle stressful situations.
- Meditation improves brain function
Meditation helps awaken the brain’s neural connections, which in turn helps to release neurotransmitters. Research has shown how meditation can alter the brain’s structure to reduce accustomed stress patterns and elevate calmness.
- Meditation awakens one’s true self
We tend to identify ourselves with our body, mind, emotions, thoughts, personality, preference, possessions, accomplishments and relationships, among other things. However, this is not who we truly are.
Meditation connects us with pure consciousness and, in return, we get to experience love, happiness, compassion, creativity, peace, wisdom, grace and silence. Through meditation, we begin to experience our true selves.