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Myths and Tips on Using Meditation for Stress Relief

Myths and Tips on Using Meditation for Stress Relief



Stress is serious. While it’s rare these days for anyone to feel like they live a stress-free life, the effects of stress on the body is no joke. Stress in the mind effects the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain that controls how hormones flow through the body. When this gland is triggered by daily stresses, it can lead to imbalances of stress hormones, which cause conditions like insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, sexual side effects, muscle tension, and can exacerbate other pre-existing conditions. Not only do these hormones affect the way the body reacts to stress, but stress can also have serious affects on your appearance as well. Wrinkles, premature aging, hair thinning, hair loss, acne, thinning or brittle nails, and weight loss or gain are all common side effects of stress as well. So, naturally, in order to prevent these symptoms, stress management is serious business as well.

Stress management can seem like a trivial waste of time, especially when finances, family, and daily chores take priority. But making stress management a priority helps make you more effective during your day, and has proved benefits for your body, mind, and your confidence.

Meditation is often heralded as a kind of miracle cure for stress, but many remain skeptical. It seems impossible to sit quietly for hours, to “clear your mind,” and for some who have religious or practices or aversions, meditation can often come across as a spiritual commitment that they may not feel comfortable making. Don’t let these myths keep you from the benefits of meditation. Here is what you need to know to make the right decision for you and your stress management.



Myth #1:
Learning to Meditate is Expensive


There are many forms of meditation. While some can take some investment, like Transcendental Meditation or monthly app subscriptions to custom guided recordings, meditation is absolutely free. You don’t need any special equipment, special clothes, or furniture to begin your meditation practice for stress relief. All you need is about 5 minutes and a quiet space. (Early mornings are perfect for meditation!)
  Myth #1: Learning to Meditate is Expensive


Myth #2:
Meditation is a Religious Practice


While some religions utilize prayer and meditation as a form of spiritual practice, meditation doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion. Mediation is simply some time to allow your mind to focus on something besides the stresses of your day. Whether it’s focusing your attention on your breathing, repeating an affirmation in your mind, or visualizing a peaceful scene, meditation simply removes your mind’s need to respond to the outside world and allows your mind and body a chance to hit the reset button. If you do have a spiritual practice, repeating a familiar prayer is a way to bring your faith practice into your meditation time, but if you don’t, simply counting your breaths or directing your attention to a pleasant thought or visualization is effective as well.
  Myth #2: Meditation is a Religious Practice


Myth #3:
Meditation takes up too much time


Meditation practices vary quite a bit, because they are what you make them. Meditation retreats that take you through a ten-day vow of silence and hours each day dedicated to meditation are out there (and they’re free), but you don’t need to invest hours or even a half-hour of your day to gain the benefits of meditation. If you only have 5 minutes, that works! If you have 20, even better. But there is no harm done by dedicating a few minutes each day to managing your stress levels.
  Myth #3: Meditation takes up too much time


Myth #4:
You can’t meditate if you have a busy mind


Saying that your mind is too busy to meditate is like saying you’re not flexible enough for yoga, or too tired to sleep. Meditation doesn’t require your mind to be silent, or even quiet, to get the most of your practice. And just like anything else, doing a little bit each day helps you get better and better each time. Meditation is the cure for a busy mind, so it’s natural that you may have persistent thoughts during your meditation practice. Simply redirecting your focus each time intrusive thoughts come in is like flexing a muscle in your mind, and each time you’re able to recognize your thoughts and come back to your mantra, affirmation, guided recording, or breathing, you build mental strength to handle whatever stresses come your way each day.
  Myth #4: You can’t meditate if you have a busy mind


Myth #5:
Starting a meditation practice has to be sacred or planned


Meditation is something you can do right now. You don’t need a special start date, preparation, or equipment to do it.

How to Start: Simply find a quiet place to sit comfortably where you can close your eyes uninterrupted for five minutes. Set a timer with a gentle bell. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe. Your mind will naturally wander, and that’s totally fine! When you notice your thoughts, just let them pass and bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for 5 minutes, and that’s it!

Another way to get started is to find guided meditations on YouTube or apps like Insight which give you access to free recordings of guided meditations specifically created to help you handle whatever the world throws at you. Simply find a quiet space and a few minutes to listen uninterrupted.
  Myth #5: Starting a meditation practice has to be sacred or planned

 

Myths and Tips on Using Meditation for Stress Relief



Bottom Line:
Meditation is super easy and super effective as a way to manage stress, anxiety, and help calm the mind and body down. You don’t have to be an expert and you don’t have to do it “right.” But there is nothing to lose in taking some time out to try meditation, only so much to gain. So try it today!