Everyone's mental health has been seriously affected in the last two and a half years. This article will explain two simple, easy scientific ways to improve your mood!
If your primary care practitioner does not recommend meditation or yoga to reduce your stress levels, then they are not up to date with the mountains of supporting research.
Meditation and yoga are both free and easily accessible ways to change the reaction of the nervous system from fight or flight (sympathetic) to rest & digest (parasympathetic).
Before our wild cultural evolution got out of hand with mobile phones, social media, scripted negative news reports, etc., we had time, space, and energy to perform ancient rituals of self-care and self-neurological regulation. Thousands of years ago, and for good reason, Eastern medicine used meditation and yoga. Our biology uses these techniques to regulate the nervous system and promote healing.
Now we have a society of constant external stimuli. It seems almost impossible to even think about taking 10 minutes from a hectic day to sit, sit still and meditate, or create a connection with the mind-body with yoga.
So many of the external stimuli that cause our sympathetic nervous to constantly be engaged, go by our awareness and happen unconsciously.
This path leads to dysregulation and disease. This is because our biology cannot keep up with the stress hormone production needed to keep up with these external stimulants. Our biological evolution is miles behind our cultural evolution.
If our society can become more mindful, we reduce our internal stress biochemistry, reduce the need for conventional medicine, and become healthier.
Meditation is easy, free, and has no side effects, except feeling great! Research proves it is a remarkable prevention practice and a useful part of medical therapy.
We have so many options, including breathing, mantras, visualizations or silence. Apps and various programs are widely available, so the accessibility of meditation is enormous. Just 5 or 10 minutes of meditative sessions can greatly change your stress response and nervous system.
Amazingly, meditation has gained acceptance in the medical community, as scientists research the remarkable health benefits of meditation.
If you can step back and find silence, you allow yourself to find the present moment. Research shows that we have more than 50,000 thoughts a day and that we are lost in random thoughts 47% of the time.
Here are some of the researched benefits of meditation:
• Reduce blood pressure
• Reduce cortisol levels
• Reduce pain
• Enhance the body's immune system
• Reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, anger and confusion
• Increase blood flow and slow heart rate
• Help reverse heart disease
• Increase energy
• Enhance memory and prevent cognitive decline
If money is a great motivator for you, the financial benefits of meditation include:
• Reduction in medical cost
• Less medical care use
• Lower sickness rate
• Less heart disease, and risk of cancer
Why not use your smartphone to do something positive? Download a meditation app today!
It wasn't so long ago that yoga was reserved for the hippies and spiritual peoples of the Western world. Now it is embraced by many more as the social consciousness of yoga develops.
Like meditation, yoga is free and accessible. From smartphones to studios, yoga was never more available.
Yoga has been researched to:
• Improve pulmonary function
• Reduces age-related cognitive decline
• Increases growth hormone production
• Improves sleep
• Reduces depressive symptoms
Our innate stress response saved us by allowing us to escape predators.
Today, however, we use the same biochemistry to deal with everyday things, such as annoying colleagues, news, politics, etc.
The stress chemicals we produce are so addicting that we find it difficult to stop this reaction. Meditation and yoga can help amazingly well. Even getting outside for a short walk around the neighbourhood can allow your mind to reset, refocus and become present.
Ask yourself - "What I am doing now, is it engaging my stress response or my healing response?"
Trying things alone can be a struggle, so consider joining a community, or reaching out to friends or even a professional counsellor. Whatever it takes to help you with your stress.
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP