HEALTH & FITNESS
We've all heard about the potentially dangerous affects of stress left unchecked. The question is, with a busy lives like all of us have, what are we to do to help lessen the affects?
First things first, let's explore what happens in the body when we experience stress. Challenging situations can cause a release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which affects the body in various ways. If not handled appropriately, the buildup of cortisol over time can lead to anxiety, elevated blood sugar, suppressed immunity, increased inflammation, and weight gain.
This hormone is responsible for our fight-or-flight response, which is a primitive, built-in autonomic nervous system response, designed to protect us during intense situations (i.e. hunting and/or being attacked).
What this means, is that every time cortisol is released, your body thinks it is being attacked, when really, it's not. Our stressors are different than they once were in primitive ages.. Some of the symptoms of this fight-or-flight response are:
That's enough to make anyone uncomfortable! So what can we do about it? Enter the much talked about and often avoided, meditation. Sitting still and clearing the mind can be incredibly difficult, there's not doubt about that. But the benefits are quite amazing.
Meditation helps to activate the “rest and digest system” aka the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposite of our fight-or-flight response. This can be used as a tool to build-up our adaptability bank to stress. What this means is that the more we meditate, the better we can handle stress, so our body doesn't automatically respond with the release of cortisol.
The signs of the rest and digest system are:
These are all signs to be aware of to know that your body is functioning well. Ready to try meditation?
Mindfulness is the act of bringing yourself into the present moment. Many people think meditation is too hard or impossible because they think they need to completely stop the mind from thinking. This is, however, not the case. We are human and meditation is simply a tool to observe the happenings in the mind.
Mindfulness meditation helps to redirect the mind whenever thoughts happen. Here are some steps you can take to try it out for yourself:
Start small with a two-three minute meditation then add to it each day, week or session. Do you have any tips or tricks for how you do your meditation? Leave your experiences below!