During the recent pandemic many of us have been anxious, worried, and stressed. News on television and social media is inundated with this dangerous virus, and to make matters worse, we are all on lockdown, away from our family and friends. With stress and isolation affecting many of us, our mental health can be impacted. One thing I have tried while being stuck at home is meditation.
Meditation is a mental exercise used to practice mindfulness that helps to achieve a clear mind and emotional stability. It helps with stress reduction, controls anxiety, promotes emotional health and more. When one is mindful they can be engaged with the present moment. People who meditate usually have a clearer mind and it helps to increase constructive and positive thoughts. It has also been proven that meditation can make you happier.
The best way to practice meditation is by setting aside time every day at the same time to get into a routine. Meditating when you first wake up is one of the best methods. It’s good to start your day off with a clear mind, and meditating can help set the tone and rhythm for your day. If you have trouble falling asleep, it might be better to mediate around your bedtime. There are several different apps to help guide you in mediation such as Headspace, which walks you through meditation sessions.
Some Physical Benefits of Mediation
- Stress Reduction
- When we are stressed, our body goes into a flight or fight response. When you meditate it automatically puts your body in a calm state and helps your body repair from stress.
- Improved Sleep
- During this time, a lot of our sleep schedules are out of whack or we are stressed and have trouble falling asleep. Meditation helps us sleep better because it can help increase melatonin and help you relax.
- Strengthens Immune System
- With a global pandemic, we are all trying to find ways to boost our immune systems and stay healthy. When we are stressed there can be an increase in bodily inflammation, which can impact our immune system negatively. Meditating can provide a positive mental environment that can boost our immune systems.
Basic Meditation Steps For Beginners
- Find a quiet comfortable space. Being in a quiet environment can help with practicing mindfulness and help with clearing your mind. Sit on the floor, in a chair, on your bed, or anywhere you feel comfortable with your legs crossed.
- Set a time limit. For beginners, choosing a short time of 5-10 minutes may be easier. After about a week you should increase the time to what feels best and works for you.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Find a tempo with your breathing and inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth.
- Be aware. When you’re taking deep breaths your body will naturally calm itself. Focus on each breath when you’re inhaling and exhaling. Throughout the meditation try not to let your mind wander and if it does return your attention to your breathing.
- End the Session. When your timer goes off, open your eyes and get up slowly. Stretch yourself and you did it!
Meditation does not always come naturally to everyone, so be patient. Meditating to relieve stress is a learned skill and developing new habits, much like exercising or eating right, takes practice.
This blog was written by FCS Extension intern River Philbert, Class of 2020, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland.