Meditation to Help Manage Stress

Stressful circumstances can take many forms. Work deadlines, disagreements, and traffic jams are just a few examples. Stress is a part of life that most of us can’t avoid. While short-term stress responses have evolved to be protective for us, persistent stress can have a host of negative health effects.

To deal with these situations, having effective stress management strategies is important to ensure our overall health.

A current trend is practicing mindfulness and meditation which have become more mainstream in recent years. Despite not being new, these have a growing base of scientific evidence for stress management along with other benefits. Despite common misconceptions, mindfulness and meditation strategies can be approachable to anyone.

The Benefits of Meditation

Research studies have demonstrated various benefits of mindfulness-based meditation. On top of stress reduction, improvements have also been shown in emotional health and regulation, attention span, memory, sleep, pain, and blood pressure!

What is Meditation?

Similar to exercise for your muscles, meditation is like a formal exercise for your mind. This is a practice that can help improve your psychological skills related to your health and wellbeing.

Mindfulness however can be defined as being aware of your experience in the present moment. Mindfulness can be embodied within meditation or also on its own. An example of mindfulness in daily life could be noticing the sensations of the breeze on your skin. This could also take the form of noticing the thoughts and/or emotions that arise at any given time.

An example of these two together could be mindfulness of breath-based meditation. In this practice, you would center your awareness on your breath for a period of time. When distraction occurs, you gently bring your awareness back to your breath.

It is important to dispel a frequent misconception related to these practices. Meditation is not designed to stop or control your thoughts. In turn, if you find yourself having thoughts during meditation, you are not doing anything wrong! It is completely normal. Part of the mindfulness portion of these practices can help you to be aware of thoughts without judgment.

How Long Do You Meditate?

While meditations can be performed in various lengths, there are practices that you only need a few minutes. Furthermore, mindfulness strategies can be performed in seconds!

How to Get Started with Mediation?

Guided meditation practices tend to be a nice starting point. In the notes below we have included several free resources that include meditation and mindfulness-based practices.

As noted in the introduction, learning strategies to navigate unpleasant scenarios is one of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness and meditation can be a part of a comprehensive care plan to achieve your goals alongside exercise, proper sleep, and a healthy diet.

In conclusion, I invite you to take a moment and follow along with the STOP acronym for a mindful pause.

Stop

Take a breath

Observe (internally and externally)

Proceed

As with any new exercise, mindfulness mediation and mindfulness take practice. When beginning an exercise program, you will likely have to gradually build your endurance and there may be bumps in the road.

As your partner in healthcare, we aim to provide you with the knowledge and resources to become your best self. Talk to your physical therapist or primary healthcare provider to find the best program for you.

By: David Lerman, PT, DPT
Excel Physical Therapy – Southampton

 

 

Resources:

https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations

https://www.mindful.org/take-a-mindful-moment-5-simple-practices-for-daily-life/

https://cih.ucsd.edu/mindfulness/guided-audio-video

https://www.mindfulnessmuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cognitive-Defusion-Exercise-1.pdf

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