Meditation for Stress Relief

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)
(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

What’s the one thing people always tell you not to do, but seems impossible not to do? Stress. Stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life that many people cannot overcome. Although stress seems unconquerable, there are remedies to lessen daily stress, such as meditation.

As far back as prehistoric times, meditation was used to deepen people’s understanding of higher beings in life, but has since transitioned into a common way to practice relaxation and stress reduction, according to Mayo Clinic. A simple definition of meditation is that it “consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase… [and] a meditator may also be walking or standing,” according to Psychology Today.

Some studies have proven that there is a link between meditation and stress levels, such as one conducted by researchers in China and at the University of Oregon, according to Science Daily.

The study consisted of a control and an experimental group of undergraduate college students. The control group received five days of relaxation training, while the experimental group received five days of meditation training. In the experiment, stress was induced by mental math. Although the two groups both released the stress hormone, cortisol, the experimental group, or the one with meditation training, released less of this hormone and also showed “lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.”

Overall, the study found that there is “a measurable benefit that people could achieve through body-mind meditation, especially involving an effective training regimen, but larger studies are needed to fully test the findings of this small, short-term study,” according to a researcher quoted by the Science Daily.

Although everyday stress reduction is the prime benefit of practicing meditation, there are also other benefits linked to meditation. According to Jaan Suurküla M.D., because practicing meditation can lower the amount of cortisol that your body releases, this may in turn help to lower the chances of chronic stress.

Other studies have also found that meditation may both prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Some forms of meditation include: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. Each of these practices has different elements and levels of difficulty, which helps make meditation a practice that is accessible to anyone.

So the next time someone tells you “don’t’ stress,” remember to take a deep breath and meditate.

Originally posted July 14, 2013
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Daniella Segura is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism. During her time there, she will be specializing in digital and print journalism.

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