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Top Tips to use Meditation for Stress Relief


When I first finished my nursing degree and started my new graduate program on the ward, I experienced a massive shock. This was an extremely busy profession and sometimes tensions ran very high. I experienced many stressful shifts and, unfortunately, not knowing how to deal with this stress, I would take this out on my colleagues by snapping.


One year into my new graduate program, I discovered mediation and yoga. I would meditate at least 20 minutes a day and sometimes would also meditate on my lunch breaks too. My colleagues noticed an immediate difference in my behaviour. I was no longer snapping or snarling in their direction and would stay calm in the most stressful situations. They asked me 'what have you been doing?' I let them know about my new meditation routine and its calming effects. Ten years later and I haven't looked back. I now meditate most days and can still feel the calming benefits when I take the time to meditate.


So let's take a deeper look at some of the benefits of meditation:


  • Stress reduction (via decreased release of cortisol and subsequent inflammatory cytokines)

  • Via stress reduction this benefits: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Fibromyalgia

  • Can benefit depression via reduction of negative thoughts and inflammatory cytokines

  • Enhances a greater understanding of yourself and your behaviours

  • Reduces feelings of loneliness and increases social contact

  • Improves problem solving skills

  • Improves focus and attention span

  • Improves memory

  • Increase kindness, compassion and positive feelings

  • Helps improve self control and awareness of triggers to improve addictions

  • Improves sleep and helps prevent insomnia via improving melatonin synthesis

  • Helps to reduce chronic pain via the perception of pain in the brain

  • Improves blood pressure by relaxing the sympathetic nervous system, blood vessel tension and heart signalling


Types of Meditation:

It is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Working out what works for you is best. You may prefer to meditate by sitting in silence and focusing on the breath. I prefer to use the app Insight Timer but you can find mediations on many other platforms and apps. However, below I have provided a list of different meditations so that you can make an informed choice to suit your needs.

  • Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the breath while you observe thoughts, feelings and any bodily sensations. This type of meditation is easily practiced alone without a teacher to guide you.

  • Spiritual meditation involves focusing on a deeper understanding of spiritual connection with a higher power and can include practices such as religious meditations involving connection to god or prayer or spiritual meditations connecting to source or energy flow.

  • Focused meditation involves concentrating one of the five senses such as listening to a bell, staring at a flame, or counting your breaths.

  • Movement meditation is great for those who struggle to sit in stillness and involves things such as mindful walking, gardening, qi gong or tai chi.

  • Mantra meditation involves chanting a word or phrase repetitively. This word creates a vibrational frequency that attunes the spirit and opens chakras. For example, 'om' is used to open the third eye chakra. This type of meditation is great for people who struggle with silence or focusing on their breath.

  • Transcendental meditation similar to the above uses specific mantras to quiet the mind and induce a sense of inner peace.

  • Progressive relaxation meditation or body scan meditation is aimed at relaxing the body by bringing the focus to different parts of the body one by one. This form of meditation is great for stress relief and unwinding prior to bed.

  • Loving kindness meditation is used to increase kindness, compassion and acceptance towards self and others. It opens the heart to give and receive love from self, family, friends and acquaintances. This type of meditation is great for those that harbour strong feelings of anger or resentment to others.

  • Visualisation meditation is the type of meditation that promotes feelings of relaxation and peace by visualising relaxing scenes, images or figures. This type of meditation is great for those with vivid imaginations.


How to incorporate meditation

  • If possible download a meditation app onto your phone. Apps include: Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, and many more. Other places to find meditations include YouTube or Spotify.

  • Pick a time in your day to do your meditations (and stick with it). This can be whatever time works best for you: first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, in the afternoons or just before bed.

  • Designate a quiet space in your home for your meditations where you will not be disturbed.

  • Turn off notifications on your phone and let those in your house know that you are not to be disturbed for the time your are meditating.

  • Pick a type of meditation that resonates best with you. If you have trouble sitting still try a moving mediation, if you hate silence try a mantra, if you experience a lot of body tension or pain try a body scan, etc. If you're unsure where to start, I recommend starting with either mindfulness, loving kindness or body scan. If it is your first time meditating make sure you look for beginner meditations as these will be tailored for beginners.

  • You don't have to meditate all day to reap the benefits. Studies show that as little as 10 minutes a day has been proven to reduce feelings of stress. However, if you feel like you have less time or struggle with stillness start with a smaller amount of time 3-5 minutes and gradually increase the time over days or weeks.


I hope this helps you all reduce stress and generate a sense of inner peace and calm.


Love and light,


Branwen


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