Meditation - Calming your Nervous System
You've probably heard of the "fight or flight" response - the "instictual" reaction that your body has when faced with stresful or frightening situations like getting into an argument or walking down a dark street alone at night. What many people don't realize is that many of us live our lives in a constant "fight or flight" state of mind. But before we dive too deep into this, let's talk about what your "fight or flight" response actually is.
Your sympathetic nervous system becomes activated in times of stress, like the examples mentioned above. You may notice things like increased heart rate, quicker breathing, sweaty palms and overall feeling of being on high alert or feeling "jumpy". These are all reactions that your nervous system has when placed in a situation that makes it uncomfortable. Many of us lead very stressful lives that cause our bodies to be in this type of a physiological state almost constantly. Research shows that a small amount of stress is actually a good thing - it can increase productivity and has other health benefits. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of negative outcomes are associated with sustained stress over a log period of time, and a lot of these outcomes can become chronic, leading to years of pain and illness. Read more about all of this .
The good news is that a number of things can be done to help decrease the amount of damage. One possible solution is meditation. Meditation is a great way to relax the nervous system and research suggests that it can help prevent the onset or progression of a number of adverse health conditions associated with high levels of stress. Here's what you can do to reap the benefit:
Reserve 10-20 minutes each day for yourself to do the following:
Find a quite place where you can sit or lie, uninterrupted.
Set the atmosphere to what makes you feel most comfortable and relaxed - you may want to turn off the lights, wrap up in a blanket, or light some scented candles. You may even want to run a bubble bath and do your meditation here!
Once the atmosphere is set and are seated or lying comfortably, close your eyes and begin to clear your mind of all of the clutter than can build up throughout the day - work, chores, responsibilities - everything.
Thoughts will try to creep in, and that's ok. Clearing your mind is very difficult at first. With practice it will get easier. When a thought or worry begins to creep in, acknowledge it and just let it drift back aside.
Focusing on your breating is a great way to keep these thoughts from enteryin into, and staying in the forefront of your mind. Focus on taking deep, slow breaths, letting the air fill your lungs completely, holding your breath for just a few seconds at the top of the inhale, and slowly exhaling all of the air back out. Repeat this process for the duration of your relaxation and meditation period.
You may repeat this process as frequently as you like. Don't give up after the first try. We are not used to clearing our minds of thought. It is a very difficult process but with time it will get easier and you will start to crave you "me time" and the health benefits will be sure to follow!
Dr. Alesha Fleming
Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic, LLC
Daytona Beach, FL
For more health tips and resources, check out our resources tab at the top of the page, or click on any of the links below! You may also download Dr. Fleming's eBook on the home page free of charge for even more health tips!
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