Stress Management is a simple process that will help you to put your affairs in a clear order and includes practices that will help you take any feedback from your professional or personal circles without getting stressed out. To understand stress management more clearly you should have an understanding as to what stress is and how it affects our mental and physical health.
In this article, we will be explaining what stress is and also some amazing methods of meditation that will help you tackle stress with ease.
What is Stress Management?
Stress is an increasingly prevalent problem among millennials. The increased demands from work and family are taking a toll on most people these days. Stressing out on things is a result of our thought process that we do not have control over the things that’s about to happen. Its impossible to control every aspect of our life, but there are many methods through which we might be able to manage certain things that can reduce the stress in our lives.
Stress can have serious implication on an individual’s physical and mental health. There are a plethora of diseases to which stress can be a triggering factor. These diseases are on a rise today as the world, on the whole, has become faster and more demanding. A lot of people struggle on a daily basis with stress pertaining to meeting targets and closing deals. The strict timelines of international trade have increased this problem in most circles.
What is Stress?
Stress is nothing but the innate response of your body to the changes and demands of the environment. Your body responds with physical, mental and emotional factors when exposed to stress. Stress is quite normal and happens in everyone’s life. It does not have to be related to negativity all the time, even positive changes in your lifestyle such as promotions, childbirth can also lead to stress.
Stress can become dangerous if a person is facing continuous challenges without any time to relax in between. These factors that drive a person to stress are called stressors. The brain is the first responder when an individual is faced with a stressor, the amygdala registers the stress factor and sends a command to the hypothalamus.
1The hypothalamus acts as the command center of the body during stress. Its responsible for initiating physical and mental responses through the body when faced with an external threat. This, in turn, brings about a reaction in the autonomic nervous system consisting of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The hypothalamus is responsible for controlling the involuntary functions of the body such as breathing and heartbeat, blood pressure, key blood vessel dilation and much more.
During an event where there is a stress signal, the sympathetic nervous system acts up increasing the production of epinephrine(adrenaline) which increases heartbeat, blood pressure and other metabolisms. During such states, the body gets prepared for fight or flight response. More oxygen is allocated to the brain making your senses sharper than usual. Cortisol is produced to keep this state steady for a long-term if necessary with the help of the HPA axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenal Glands).
This process is natural for all mammals enabling them to adapt to the changing situations they are in. However, this method is ideally followed in case the body is subjected to imminent physical or mental harm. This is a superfast response system, i.e, the speed with which you evade a car coming crashing into you is because of the speed of the autonomic nervous system. These methods are highly advantageous and possibly life-saving during certain situations.
After the stressful events stop, the parasympathetic nervous system acts as a brake, reducing the production of epinephrine and brings your heartbeat and breathing back to normal. The blood pressure lowers and cortisol acts as an appetizing agent forcing the individual to intake energy to make for the amount spend during the event of stress.
In cases of chronic stress, there is no sudden response that is demanded by the body, yet the brain perceives the situation as an imminent threat and starts the process of fight or flight response. In such situations, like the one we are talking about in this article, this braking system with the help of parasympathetic nervous system does not completely work, the low-level stress keeps the HPA axis active leading to further health complications.
Dangers of Stress:
Now that you have understood how stress works, you need to keep an eye out for the dangers it can bring upon your health. Stressors can be very consistent causing further production of epinephrine and other hormones that can lead to a cascade of both mental and physical problems. Here is a short list of health issues that can be caused due to chronic stress:
- Consistent production of epinephrine can lead to lasting damage to blood vessels and your arteries.
- The damage to the blood vessels and arteries makes you more prone to heart attacks and strokes.
- Increased cortisol level increases appetite to make up for the energy you lost while stressing out. But in chronic stress, the appetite increases without much expenditure of energy making you eat more and thereby building deposits of bad fat throughout your body.
- A continuous state of being stressed out can be deadly to your mental health. Along with the hormonal changes, the victims tend to go into depression or hyperactivity based on his/her stress response.
Meditation to Counter Stress:
There are various methods you can use to reduce or eradicate stress from your life. Different people rely on different methods when it comes to managing stress. However, before you start taking medications or consulting a psychiatrist to help with your stress issue you need to understand certain facts.
Stress is a quite normal biological response to challenging situations, what makes it deadly is the inability of your body to cope with it in the right way. Having control over your mind and body can thus help in controlling stress in a great way without the use of any medications.
This is where meditation comes into the picture, meditation can help you deal with stressful situations in a calm and composed manner, which will provide minimum stress to your body and mind.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a method of controlling your body and mind to induce a state of tranquility and calmness. This technique has been followed for many years by people who seek mental harmony and a healthy lifestyle. It was originally designed to help understand the mystical forces of life and to get in touch with your inner soul.
Meditation takes you to a deep state of mental awareness allowing you to feel each movement of your body. Long-term practice of meditation can help build a slow and gradual control over your mental and bodily functions. While performing meditation your thought process gets extremely streamlined allowing your mind to think clearly without getting bothered by stressful thoughts. This allows your mind to solve issues in a smarter and fast manner making stress absolutely redundant.
It’s hence ideal that you resort to various types of meditation rather than taking prescription medicines to control your stress. It’s also important to understand that meditation is a complete package that can deliver unto you both physical and mental well-being. Meditation does not require any equipment or setting providing an advantage of space, i.e you can perform meditation anywhere at anytime.
Types of Meditation:
There are many variations of meditation practices that you can choose from according to your lifestyle and preference. Here is a list of popular meditation techniques that can be used to reduce and control stress.
Guided meditation is a from of meditation that depends upon calming memories of external imagery. In simple terms, it is a type of medication in which you try and envision about a place or situation where you might have felt absolutely relaxed and try to reproduce the same mental state.
In guided meditation, you are encouraged to use as many senses as you can to attain a state of tranquility. If the smell of fresh rain is a calming factor for you, replicating that smell can trigger your brain to attain the same level of peace. It can be applied to all senses including sound and feel.
Guided meditation is usually performed under the supervision of a guide who can lead your mind on the right path to immerse itself in these memories.
Mantra meditation is a type of meditation where you chant calming mantras to keep yourself away from distracting thoughts. Concentration is the key factor while performing meditation, these mantras help you keep the distracting thoughts at bay and focus entirely on your mind and body.
There are various chants used for this purpose, one of the famous ones is the Mantra of Peace “Asato ma sadgamaya, Tamsoma jyotir gamaya, mrityormaamritam gamaya, om Shanti shanti Shanti h” in Sanskrit which loosely translates to “Lead me to truth from ignorance, Lead me to light from darkness, lead me to immortality from death”
These mantras are highly beneficial in reducing your thought paradigm and enables you to focus completely on the meditation. It cuts down the multi tasking ability of the mind to streamline the thoughts and find a clear and simple solution to the problem at hand.
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that lets you be extremely aware of each and every movement and thought within your body and mind. It usually commences with you focusing on your breathing and slowly trying to experience the pathway of the breath within your body.
Done in an extremely calm atmosphere, this type of meditation allows you to keep observing your thoughts without passing any judgments. This allows you to be aware of the problems you face and deconstruct it in an orderly and calm fashion without getting stressed out. The deconstruction part is not done during the time of meditation, however, observing the thoughts will allow you to solve it without getting stressed out in the future.
Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation which is very natural. It does not rely on concentration or focus but on the basic functioning of the mind. In transcendental meditation, you can keep chanting a personal mantra, a phrase or a mere sound in a repeated fashion that will slowly slip your mind into a tranquil and meditative state without much effort.
The ease of doing this form of meditation makes it highly favorable to people with limited attention span or very little time. This form of meditation can make your body and mind slip into a state of inner peace without any distraction. The way in which you chant is important in this form of meditation, the method and tone of chanting must coincide with your breathing pattern making it easy for your mind and body to relax.
Yoga is much more than a simple meditation method. The benefits of yoga are manifold and known to many. Meditation can be considered as the base for yoga, it allows the mind to easily attain a state of tranquillity, when combined with the physical practices of yoga, it becomes highly beneficial to both the body and the mind.
Yoga is highly popular thus making it one of the easiest meditation methods to follow. The effect of yoga on stress reduction is also astonishing making it the go-to remedy for people with highly stressed out and demanding job or lifestyle.
The postures of yoga require extreme balance and concentration, which in turn frees your mind from disturbing and stressful thoughts. Practising yoga daily can help with both mental and physical well-being of an individual.
Besides the above-mentioned methods meditation to reduce stress can also be performed in sync with certain Chinese martial art practices such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi. These methods like yoga require the balance between the mind and body to be strong and hence reduces the effect stress can have on both.
Benefits of Meditation:
Meditation can have additional benefits if you do it right. Apart from reducing and controlling stress it also can help in a great way in controlling or reducing the symptoms for a wide range of other diseases. Some of the diseases that can be controlled using meditation are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Extreme Chronic Pain
- Heart Disease
- Blood Pressure
- Sleep Apnea
These benefits are not accepted widely by pharmaceuticals, yet the physicians claim that they can have a positive impact on the condition of the patient. Meditation can also help you bring about discipline and order into your life in a natural way without you feeling scrutinized.
Developing a habit of daily meditation can help you lead a lifestyle that is both healthy and enriching. Besides the multiple health benefits meditation also cleans up your mind and keeps your aura clean of disturbing and negative thoughts. Attaining concentration by practicing meditation can also prove very helpful to school and college students as they will be able to focus better in class without many distractions.
Meditation will also help you hone your skill set when you reach a state of tranquility your mind becomes clear allowing more room for creativity and execution. Many people these days depend upon medication to even go to sleep due to their stressed-out routine. Meditation can also help you maintain a proper circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) ensuring that you start your day fresh and ready to face any challenge without getting stressed out.