Chippenham Hospital - April 10, 2019

Stressed? Try meditating

Do you sometimes feel stressed and anxious? Stress can hurt both your physical and emotional health. Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce your stress level – and you can do it anywhere, anytime.

The practice of meditation goes back hundreds of years. It’s a mind-body technique that can quickly take you from feeling stressed to having a clear focus and sense of control over your stress.

Meditation may help you to:

  • Focus on the present moment
  • Gain insight into the cause of your stress
  • Reset negative emotions to positive
  • Sleep better
  • Lower your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Cope with health concerns such as depression, headaches, pain or chronic illness 

There are many ways to meditate. Most techniques are simple and only take a few minutes.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stop and reset. Recognizing when you are stressed and anxious is the first step.
  • Find a quiet place. If possible, move to a quiet location, away from noise and distraction.
  • Get comfortable. Find a place to sit with your feet planted on the ground, your back and neck straight and tall.
  • Focus on breathing. Every meditation starts with clearing your mind and focusing on your breathing. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.

Types of Meditation

You’ll want to experiment with the different forms of meditation to find those that work best for you. Some of the most common practices include:

  • Deep breathing. This is the simple and easy to do anytime you need quick stress relief. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Slow down each breath and count to 5 as you breathe in, and count to 8 as you exhale. Visualize your body taking in oxygen as you breathe in, and releasing stress as you breathe out. Repeat for at least one minute.
  • Mindfulness meditation. Close your eyes and start with deep breathing for one minute. Once you have a regular rhythm, focus your mind on the present moment. Keep your mind focused on your body and how you feel. Slowly recognize any tense muscles, stress, or negative thoughts you are feeling and let them go with each breath out. If your mind starts to wander, refocus and say a calming mantra to yourself. Do this for 5 minutes.
  • Guided imagery. This type of meditation combines deep breathing with the visualization of a positive memory. Visualize your favorite location, or a person you love (past or present). Include all of your senses. What do you see, smell, feel and hear as you take your mind to this special place. Do this for 5 minutes.
  • Mind-body exercises. Try exercises that combine movement with deep breathing, such as Tai chi, Qi gong, or These exercises help you focus your mind and body on stretching and relaxing your muscles, deep breathing and finding balance.

Don’t let stress rule your life – set aside five minutes out of your busy day to meditate and reset for a healthy mind and body.