In the months since the arrival of COVID-19, people have had plenty of reasons to feel stressed. From fear about contracting the virus to job loss and financial struggles, most individuals continue to experience some degree of anxiety. At least until a vaccine is available to everyone, staying as healthy as possible is the next best thing.
While stress is a saboteur of good health, practicing meditation may help alleviate its damaging effects on both the body and mind. To that end, check out the following information brought to you courtesy of Pilates with Amanda.
The Impact of Stress on Your Body
The body’s typical reaction to stress is the release of hormones that cause the “fight or flight” response, which Healthline explains can be useful in the face of danger. Under normal, healthy circumstances, those hormones disperse after the threat has gone. However, if the body is continually bombarded by the stress response, it can lead to physical and mental illnesses.
Most relevant today is its impact on the immune system, the body's frontline defense against the virus, but stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, the inability to focus and many other physical ailments. One of the more effective ways to manage stress and maintain good health is through meditation.
How Meditation Can Help
Simply put, meditation is the practice of focusing the mind. It is a way to put life’s stressors on pause for a time and to give the body a rest from their damaging impact. Taking a short break each day from the overwhelming demands on one’s limited time and emotional resources can allow the mind to heal and the body to relax. According to NCCIH, scientific studies indicate that meditation can provide many health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to relieving anxiety and depression.
Creating a Peaceful Space
Before beginning a meditation practice, it is necessary to create a peaceful space dedicated to that purpose. It doesn’t have to be large, but it should be free of clutter. The ability to quiet the mind amid noise and chaos may come with experience, but initially those distractions will likely hinder success. An uncluttered space is more conducive to focus, which is vital for the practice of meditation. What’s more, it lends itself to a more positive atmosphere — something worth striving for throughout your home.
A basic meditation area should include a comfortable place to sit, whether it's a chair, bench or soft floor cushion. Ideally, the windows would be open to let in some fresh air. Including plants is also an excellent way to increase the room’s oxygen level and refresh the air while adding a calming touch of nature. The decor should be soothing and minimal. When it’s finished, this peaceful space may even inspire a decluttering effort for the rest of the house.
Where to Begin
Many meditation techniques exist, but the most common are those centered around concentration, focus and breathing. Countless online resources are available for learning meditation as a beginner. There are also books, in-person courses and a wide variety of smartphone apps (We Know Yoga recommends Headspace and Calm) that include guided meditations. These are an excellent place to start because they require nothing more than listening to the recorded voice and following instructions. And as ZenBusiness mentions, it takes a while before your new routine will become a healthy habit; click here to learn how you can turn your new habit into something you’ll do on a regular basis.
Having mastered the basics of meditation practice, some move on to study more advanced techniques. They may begin practicing pilates, too, or attend retreats, where pilates, yoga, and meditation are practiced in a group setting. These retreats can be incredibly rejuvenating, hitting the pause button on stress for days, not just minutes. If you’d like to get started with pilates, get in touch with Pilates by Amanda.
In the time of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to maintain good health. Stress reduction can boost the immune system and lead to a healthier mind and body. Practicing meditation is a safe and effective method of achieving the calm and relaxation necessary to alleviate stress-related health issues. All it requires is a peaceful corner and a few minutes a day.