Fitness, movement, mindfulness, mental health; they are all part of the picture, but what are you doing to maintain your body, mind, and spirit when life gets stressful? Chronic stress is heading towards epidemic levels, and it's causing a whole range of health challenges.
According to the American Psychological Society, the top causes of stress are job pressure, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation.
These pressures have resulted in the loss of more than $300 billion of reduced productivity in the United States alone. Moreover, 73 per cent of people regularly suffer psychological effects caused by stress. These are some sobering statistics, and they seem to be accelerating for people as we get closer to the end of the year.
So how do we cope with stress and create a life that allows us to live balanced, healthy lifestyles where we aren't getting sick from being stressed out? There are a multitude of answers, and you've probably heard them all before.
Ideas like getting outside, do things you love, spending time with loved ones, exercise, proper nutrition, etc. It can get stressful to do the things you need to do, to reduce stress in the first place.
What if we could strip away these standard answers and find a more profound solution to stress without a substantial financial or time commitment? There is a way to do it, and it's called meditation.
Mediation is as simple as carving 5-10 minutes a day to unplug from the world, take time for yourself, and through this simple process, exercise the mind. The result is a healthier mind-set that will help you deal with modern life and stress.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to be a viable solution to stress. Here are 10 ways meditation helps you maintain a healthy life:
1. Increases immune function
2. Decreases pain
3. Increases positive emotion
4. Decreases depression
5. Increases social connection and emotional intelligence
6. Makes you more compassionate
7. Improves your ability to regulate your emotions
8. Increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions, and self-control
9. Improves your memory
10. Improves your ability to be creative and think outside the box.
These are some of the positive things meditation can do to help you feel in life. Where a lot of people get confused is trying to do it a particular way of doing it or putting on other stereotypes that don't serve you.
Meditation is brain exercise because you focus on the present, on your breath, and whenever another idea or concept or stressor comes into your mind, you let it go. Meditation is exercise, and it will help you succeed in all areas of your life.
How do you start? Well, it is simpler than you think, allocate 5-10 minutes DAILY, to sit quietly with nothing to distract you. I can't stress enough the idea that doing this daily is going to help you significantly.
Meditate before bed or when you wake up so that you can make this a non-negotiable in your life. When ideas and thoughts come into your mind and trust me, they will, you observe them and let them pass. At the end of your time, add some gratitude to yourself for making this a priority in your life.
Meditation is mental hygiene: Clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself. Think of all those minutes you waste every day on the internet or otherwise; you can fit in 5-10 minutes here or there to give your life a boost. Meditation will help you succeed in life so that you can achieve your life goals.
• Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.