From young to old, everyone is a victim of stress these days. Ranging from students, homemakers, the working class to healthcare professionals or businessmen; everyone experiences stress in varying intensities daily. Many factors give rise to this unwanted emotion in people and often it could arise from the simplest of reasons which go unnoticed initially. There are various methods in which this negative emotion can be dealt with and minimized. In this article, we will cover the causes and symptoms of stress and how meditation shines light on the lives of those suffering from it.
What Is Meditation
Meditation is an age-old method practiced by many to free their minds of negative thoughts and emotions. Off-late more people are turning to this methodology to bring peace into their lives. It helps people to calm their mind, body, and soul thereby promoting emotional and mental well-being. Meditation encourages people to view the realities of life with a positive mindset thereby helping them to get rid of negative emotions and have a renewed perspective over them. When one speaks of being in a meditative state what it means is that the person can remain calm even when faced with stress-inducing situations. This feat can be attained when one practices meditation regularly, mastering the art of mind-focus and self-awareness, freeing oneself of all forms of negativities. Unlike with medicines consumed for stress-relief, the positive effects of meditation can be seen immediately in people. It is not rocket science and can be performed in a few simple steps. A person who practices meditation regularly has better control over emotions like anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, stress, anxiety, greed, etc. than one who never meditates.
There are various types of meditation namely loving-kindness meditation, progressive relaxation, spiritual meditation, breath-awareness meditation, zen meditation, mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, and several others depending on individual requirements. For best results consult with an expert to know what would best work for you.
Stress Causing Factors
When our bodies are subjected to tense situations, hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released in excess leading to tense-muscles and increased breathing – in other words, it leads to stress. Various factors causing it are:
- Job pressure
- Relationship problems
- Mental and physical health issues
- Stage-fright and related shyness
- Inability to give one’s best performance on the work front
- Lack of clarity over prospects
- Financial incompetence and burden
- Unwanted anxiety over petty matters
- Unexpected life changes
- Noise pollution and being amidst a crowd
- Unrealistic perceptions on life
- Domestic violence as well as violence in general
- Certain events that induce trauma
Signs & Symptoms
Some tell-tale signs of stress which should not be ignored are:
- Getting frustrated over petty issues
- Onset of restlessness
- Lack of confidence and self-esteem
- Get emotionally overwhelmed and drained
- The onset of an uneasy feeling in the stomach
- Low energy levels
- Unexplained headache
- Lack of sexual drive
- Difficulty to concentrate or focus
- Changes in appetite – overeating or lack of appetite
- Constantly feel worried or tensed
- Loss of memory in some people
- Resorting to alcohol, drugs, etc for comfort
- Keeping away from the crowd
- Isolating oneself
Meditation To Relieve Stress
Some common and effective meditations to relieve stress are as follows:
- Chocolate meditation – undoubtedly this would be one of the most pleasurable forms of meditation. Apt for beginners, it is easy to commit to. Keep handy a bite-sized piece of chocolate (preferably dark). Relax the muscles, gently inhaling, keeping the eyes closed. Take in the chocolate aroma with a deep breath, enjoying the sweet sight, and take a small bite. Once it melts in the mouth, focus on the happy flavors, relishing the moment. Focus only on each sensation of touching, swallowing, enjoying the chocolate, blocking other thoughts. Savor each moment just as u did the chocolate. Repeat if needed the same day.
- Loving-kindness meditation – this form not only relieves stress but also promotes general well-being. Known as a feel-good meditation, it revolves around focusing on oneself and one’s loved ones with enhanced empathy, kindness, and love. Seat oneself in a comfy, quiet nook to enjoy some me-time. Keep the eyes closed, inhale and relax the muscles. Gently allow peace and calm to overtake your being, feeling love for self just the way you are made. Breathe out gently releasing unwanted thoughts and allowing gratitude to blanket your mind. Enforce thoughts of happiness, assurance, and appreciation. Bask in the moment, allowing no negative thoughts to seep in. Think of your loved ones and repeat the thoughts of gratitude, love and compassion. Envision moments of collective well-being and happiness. Your positive thoughts can be directed to your enemies as well to attain a complete feeling of peace. Once relaxed, gently open the eyes and face the day as a much calmer, compassionate person.
- Music Meditation – music is a mood-lifter and many people resort to music to shut their minds off troubles not realizing they are indulging in a satisfying meditative method. Apt for beginners, this is another method easy to stick to that helps induce peace and calm in one’s mind. Seat oneself comfortably in a quiet space and choose soothing music preferably with a slow tempo and no vocals. Keep the eyes shut and relax all muscles slowly, including one’s facial muscles. Inhale and expand your belly and gently exhale. Focus on the music, feeling it and basking at the moment. Relax the mind and body blocking all other thoughts, allowing inner peace to seep in. Continue for over 20 minutes.
- Walking meditation – coupled with the benefits of exercising, this method is easy to follow and enjoy. Get into a comfortable gear and choose a quiet path with a calming scenic view to make the meditation a pleasurable one. Start walking at a comfortable pace, taking in the movement of each body part as you walk. Focus your attention on enjoying the walk and on the now alone, blocking out negative thoughts that attempt to ruin the moment. Try to synchronize your breathing with your steps in an enjoyable manner. You can listen to soothing music to further calm your mind if it tends to drift off from the meditation. Do whatever best helps u attain inner peace. Be it for 10 minutes or 30, point is to meditate whenever you feel stressed.
- Brief meditation – even if for a few minutes, meditation does have positive impacts on the mind and body when it comes to stress-relief. This method is useful as it gives quick and efficient results. Keep handy a timer, setting it for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing your mind and body. Inhale and exhale gently releasing tensions along with it. In 5 counts, inhale expanding the belly, expand the ribs, then the chest and feel the relaxation up to the brain. Hold the breath by the 5th inhalation. Repeat the steps exhaling but backward, from the head up to the body. Envision all tensions leaving the body out from the head through your toes. And then repeat.
Life doesn’t present itself as an easy package to anyone, and stress and tensions are all a part of it. None of us may be able to eliminate worries from our lives completely but it is important to learn how to manage and handle difficult situations. Resorting to meditation is a hassle-free and efficient way to manage stress. Just make sure not to neglect the tell-tale signs and get help as quickly as possible. Everyone has the right to live peacefully so start with yourself and then turn the focus to your loved ones. Rest assured, life can undoubtedly become an enjoyable journey for one and all.