We’ve all been there: that moment when everything seems insurmountable and when our stress is at its peak.
When it comes to managing stress, everyday stress can come from piling up chores or getting the kids’ homework ready , or even struggling to manage our finances to save money .
Needless to say that stress can be a major obstacle in life and promote a feeling of helplessness and stagnation if it is not controlled.
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat this negative mechanism so that it has less adverse effects on you.
Meditation is one of the most valuable anti-stress practices that can help you achieve this.
Many are the (false) received ideas around meditation, between new age method and experience of the beyond having no hold in the real world.
In fact, the benefits of meditation are scientifically proven : they reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration and strengthen the immune system.
What is meditation ?
If we refer to India and its most ancestral practices, meditation was a way of training the mind to focus on the present moment and to become more aware of its environment and its emotions .
Today, meditation is often used to relieve stress , improve concentration , and increase our self-awareness . It is also sometimes implemented to treat anxiety and depression and is the subject of scientific studies to understand its potential positive effects on pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Concretely, how do we practice meditation?
Practitioners focus their attention on their breath or on an object or thought in order to calm their thoughts and reduce their anxiety.
There are, however, many different ways to meditate.
Some people sit quietly with their eyes closed, while others focus on their thoughts or feelings. Others use guided meditations through dedicated applications to be accompanied in this process.
Meditation can also be a very flexible practice : it can be practiced anywhere, at any time and without any necessary equipment.
Why does meditation help fight stress?
Meditation has been shown to alter brain activity , which helps regulate stress response patterns.
Neurologically, meditation acts on the amygdala (an area of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety) helping to calm these stress-related circuits. Meditation can thus accompany people who are subject to anxiety or stress that is difficult to evacuate on a daily basis.
Meditation also releases dopamine (which is linked to the brain’s reward center), which provides a feeling of well-being and helps relieve stress. It can also help regulate hormones such as cortisol, which has an impact on our metabolism.
Meditation also helps increase gray matter density in areas of the brain involved in decision-making or emotional management (such as the prefrontal cortex), allowing you to better control your emotions and reactions to stress. .
2 types of effective meditations to fight against stress
- Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation is a practice of focusing your attention on the present moment by learning to cultivate a sense of awareness and acceptance. It significantly helps develop a greater capacity for self-awareness and compassion and improves your ability to face life’s challenges and develop stronger relationships.
Numerous studies have found that mindfulness meditation can improve concentration and reduce stress levels. It also has positive effects on brain function, including reducing cortisol levels and promoting better neural connections.
- Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana meditation is a Buddhist practice that helps practitioners relax and reduce stress levels. It consists of sitting serenely, concentrating on your breathing and observing your thoughts and emotions. This practice allows you to become aware of your emotions and how they affect you. You can also learn how to manage stress in a healthy way by identifying its triggers for you on a daily basis.
The Vipassana method also helps practitioners develop mindfulness, which increases compassion and empathy towards others. These qualities can be very beneficial in stressful situations, such as when you are under interpersonal tension.
- Meditation is a simple yet powerfulstress management tool.
- If you’re new to meditation, it may take a few tries to find a style that’s right for you. Do not neglect the interest of an application to accompany you in this process.
- It’s proven: meditating has a positive effecton your brain and your stress level, while developing better management of emotions.
- If you have trouble calming your mind, try mindfulnessto help you focus.
- Remember that meditation should not be a goal or an end result, but rather a journey you take to find more clarity in your life.