Stress Reduction And Meditation

Category: Benefits of Meditation | Health and Meditation | Stress and Anxiety

Meditation can help relieve stress

How Meditation Helps Relieve Stress (Simple and Fast Improvements)

When we’re faced with unexpected or challenging circumstances that we don’t have the resources to handle, stress arises. The stress response occurs on a physical, mental and emotional level. Our heart rate and breathing quickens and our sweat glands activate. We may have self-defeating or judgmental thoughts along with emotions such as fear, frustration, irritability or panic.

But stress isn’t always negative. When we have the resources to cope with stress, the release of adrenaline can be beneficial. Stress can be motivating and might even encourage positive emotions related to confidence, clarity and alertness.

The difference between the two isn’t just based on external circumstances. Stress requires the cooperation of our minds. A regular meditation practice makes it far more likely that we’ll feel sufficiently resourced when stress arises. Incidents of stress become less overwhelming, and can be prevented all together.

How Meditation Helps Relieve Stress

Meditation helps reduce stress on several levels. It softens our reactivity to our experiences, lets us view things from a new perspective, and provides us with the coping skills and resiliency which can prevent stress in the first place.

  • Reduced Reactivity
    Meditation enhances mindfulness. It teaches us to differentiate between the source of our stress, and our reaction to it. Whether we’re concerned about climate change or our neighbor’s fence, typically, it’s not our external circumstances but our reaction to them that’s the cause of our problems. This is good news, because it means the solution is also within. And it’s our inner state of mind that’s changeable. Improved mindfulness keeps us from repeating old habits that turn each of our challenges into stressful events.
  • A Change in Perspective
    Not everything is worthy of a stress response. The spaciousness we create in meditation lets us see that our emotions are fleeting and we are not what we think. Our true identity is more akin to the stable and spacious ground of awareness from which our emotions arise. Meditation and mindfulness teach us to view stressful situations as if from outside of them versus trapped within. From this perspective, anything that comes our way seems more manageable.
  • A Stress-Free Mind
    With the spaciousness and perspective that meditation grants us, we’re less likely to perceive stress in the first place. Not because stress is the water we swim in, but because situations once labeled as stressful now feel manageable. When strong emotions do arise, we can recognize them, allow them to be present, and in doing so, give them space to dissipate.

We cannot eliminate life’s challenges, but we can put an end to chronic stress by transforming hardship into opportunities for growth.

The Research on Meditation and Stress Reduction

So how does meditation reduce stress? There’s ample research on mindfulness, meditation and stress reduction. These studies offer insight into the physiological changes that keeps us calm, even when we’re not meditating.

How To Meditate To Relieve Stress

For meditation to be effective as stress prevention, we need a consistent meditation practice. Just 15 minutes each day can calm the parasympathetic nervous system, create lasting change in the brain, and reveal the positive virtues and wisdom that keep us at peace, no matter life’s challenges. Learn how to apply meditation to life’s stressful situations in our online course.

About the Author: Sara-Mai Conway

Sara-Mai Conway writes articles about Buddhist meditation based on her practice and experience
Sara-Mai Conway is a writer, yoga and meditation instructor living and working in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Her writing and teachings are informed by her personal practice and Buddhist studies. When not at her desk, she can be found teaching donation-based community classes in her tiny, off-grid hometown on the Pacific Coast. Learn more about Sara-Mai Conway here.

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