Scientific studies show prolonged exposure to stress may cause heart attacks, strokes, and some forms of cancer in certain individuals. When left unmanaged stress can manifest a wide range of symptoms and affect every part of the body.
Although stress has gotten a bad rap, it’s actually not a bad thing. Stress is one of our body’s natural defense mechanisms that warns us of impending danger. When the body perceives a threat, it sets off a process of biochemical processes intended to help our body effectively deal with the crisis.
Adrenaline produces the “fight-or-flight” response. It speeds up the heart rate and increases blood sugar to prepare the body to exert a burst of energy. Adrenaline is intended to be used on as “as-needed” basis, not an “all-day, every-day” basis.
Cortisol is converted from corticosteroids which are secreted by the adrenal gland when the body is under stress. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and affects multiple areas of the body. It increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and suppresses the digestive and reproductive systems.
Today, many people are living in constant fight-or-flight mode. This causes the body to continuously produce and release stress hormones. Exposure to chronically high levels of stress hormones can lead to obesity, insomnia, heart disease, depression, digestive ailments and other complications.
Incorporating stress management techniques can significantly reduce the impact stress has on your body. Meditation is one of the easiest and most affordable stress management solutions. It can be performed in the privacy of your home and requires little time.
When people hear the word ‘meditation’ they oftentimes conjure up thoughts of Buddhist monks praying in a temple. While this sometimes is the case, it is not the norm. There are many forms of meditation and the techniques used vary considerably. Some people practice meditation in conjunction with their spiritual practices; however, many people use it solely as a tool for physical and psychological well-being.
The altered state of mind that includes meditation, hypnosis and guided imagery has been scientifically validated as an effective way to treat anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem and other psychological disorders. Meditation can help lower blood pressure, manage chronic pain and slow, or reverse aging.
Meditation has proven to be one of the safest and most effective treatments for chronic diseases including arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, heart disease and cancer.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis can lead to improved physical and mental health, but it takes time to see the results. Meditation requires some level of commitment in order to experience profound changes. It’s unrealistic to expect chronic stress to disappear after one 15-minute meditation session.
Many people prefer to learn meditation by attending a class or one-on-one instruction, where they can interact with the instructor. If classes are not an option, meditation books and CDs can prove just as beneficial. Meditation CDs are a convenient way to engage in meditation on a regular basis. You can listen to them whenever you need to relax and unwind.