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How Meditation Helps to Reduce Blood Pressure

How Meditation Helps to Reduce Blood Pressure

Heart disease is one of the leading killers of North Americans. With the combination of the Standard American Diet and a low priority for exercise, it isn’t any surprise that heart disease is easily one of the most dangerous things North Americans have to worry about. Not only that, but the stresses of daily life are constantly plaguing the population. Everybody wants, and needs, to succeed. And the stress associated with such important tasks can cause blood pressure to rise. Sometimes, stress can cause other issues associated with heart disease as well, such as stress-eating unhealthy foods that contribute to poor health.

Ultimately however, meditation is a great way to help keep that type of stress in check. Rather than allowing the negative cycles to persist, meditation can provide a way for us to unplug from the world around us and refocus our minds onto things that are not as overwhelming. When we engage in stress-relieving activities, our brains respond very physically. Chemicals such as nitric oxide are released and it is found to be helpful in reducing blood pressure.

In fact, one study even found that people who managed to keep a regular meditation schedule were able to lower the dosage of the blood pressure medications that they had been using to keep their health in check. That isn’t to say that if you start to meditate, you should immediately cut down on the does of whatever medicine you are taking. However, you can keep in touch with your doctor about your new lifestyle change and see if there is the option later on down the line.

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Reducing stress is a huge key in reducing blood pressure. When we find ourselves getting stressed out, our bodies react. Our hearts beat more quickly, we get flushed, and we generally suffer from tightness in the chest or other limbs. Stress is known as the silent killer for a reason.

But meditation is a cure. While it may not always reduce the stressful situations you experience in your life, it does provide us with a great coping mechanism that allows us to build up our resistance to stress and process negative events in a healthy way rather than letting them bring us down. No matter what style of meditation you choose to utilize, it has a high chance of reducing your blood pressure. Whether you are simply focusing on your breathing, practicing mindfulness, or listening to guided meditations, taking the time away from your hectic life to focus inward is a great asset.

While we can’t completely cure the world of heart disease, we can at least take steps in preventing it from affecting us as badly as it could. In lowering our risk of heart disease by practicing meditation and lowering stress, we are ensuring ourselves, and those we care about, that we are capable of handling whatever life throws at us in a healthy way. In learning more about meditation, you may literally save your life!

How Meditation Can Improve Anxiety Disorders

How Meditation Can Improve Anxiety Disorders

Meditation is a great tool for anybody who has ever suffered from an anxiety disorder. The primary goal of meditation is to clear your mind and to be able to bring your attention to the present moment. You are meant to create an aura of peace surrounding yourself and create a safe place in your mind where you can escape if things get overwhelming, without detaching yourself from the world or your life.

Generalized anxiety disorder is very common in today’s world. Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed by the things going on around us, and seek to find comfort and control when we feel our security is being threatened. In learning to utilize meditation, we are providing ourselves with a very useful tool that we can access during any situation. We can remember to breathe mindfully and keep our attention on the present moment rather than succumbing to panic attacks or hysteria.

Anxiety disorders can be complex and can manifest in many different ways. Often, anxiety can cause sleep disturbances or result in shallow and unrestful sleeping patterns. Fortunately, meditation has been proven as a way to help us to sleep more soundly. It helps us to process the stresses that we feel on a daily basis so that they are not creeping just below the surface when we finally get a chance to lay down and relax our bodies.

Meditation is a way to help us to train our minds. People with anxiety disorders can very much benefit from this type of training. It can be easy for our thoughts to go astray, and when this happens, it can be very confusing and even a little bit scary.

Fortunately, utilizing techniques like mindfulness meditation can help us to stay focused on the here and now, rather than following the uncertain paths that our thoughts might take should we begin to experience anxiety. This tool is incredibly beneficial to sufferers of anxiety, and can be practiced until strengthened fully.

Whether or not you suffer consistently from anxiety or it only creeps up on you once in a while, learning how to practice mindfulness meditations is incredibly useful. A good way to begin is to simply close your eyes for a moment and focus on your breathing. What does your body feel like as you breathe? How quickly are you inhaling your breaths? What do you hear around you? What do you smell?

By taking your attention away from the thoughts that are causing your anxiety and focusing on the current world around you, you can begin to stay in the present moment and interrupt the disruptive neural pathways that are causing so much more harm than good. This way, you may find yourself much better e       quipped to handle the stresses of daily life without suffering from as much anxiety as you may have before.

Anxiety can be a very disruptive presence in your life, but in learning to practice mindfulness meditation, it can be a force easily reckoned with merely using the power of your own mind!

The Pros and Cons of Guided Meditations

The Pros and Cons of Guided Meditations

The general consensus over the years is that meditation is a great thing.  It has served human kind for thousands of years and continues to be a very important resource to those who utilize it in their lives.

What many people don’t realize is that there are several different types of meditation and that each one of them can help you in different ways. Sticking to the type of meditation that works best for you can be important,  but ultimately it can also be limiting.

Guided meditation is a great way for anyone who has never meditated before to get the hang of it and learn more about how it works. It can give us something to think about and focus on while we get the hang of meditating. And if we find that we are having a very difficult time in getting out of our negative head space, listening to a guided meditation can be a great distraction.

Guided meditations can also be used to help us focus our minds on important things and specific goals and objectives that are meaningful to us. There are hundreds upon hundreds of guided meditations with specific goals in mind. If, for example, you wanted a meditation session to help you get the most out of your diet or work routine,  you could probably search online and immediately find guided meditations that are tailored to that specific goal.

However,  there are some negative aspects to becoming dependent on guided meditations. When meditation was first introduced,  it was generally considered a way to do important inner work. Something that was best done alone. If you find it impossible to meditate without the help of someone else,  then what is the point? You are losing out on important opportunities to look deeply inward and learn how to gain insight into yourself without the help of someone else.

Meditation is generally a personal thing.  It is an act most effectively mastered on your own. If you find yourself struggling to clear your mind and find a safe, peaceful place in your head without the help of someone else, you are missing out on one of meditation's greatest benefits. The chance to sit alone in deep,  silent reflection and get intimately connected with yourself, good and bad. And learning how to carve out a safe and sacred space where you can begin to feel relaxed and rejuvenated after dealing with a very draining world or situation.

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Ultimately, no matter what type of meditation you are most comfortable with,  you can find value and introspection in it. Your thoughts and experiences are your own, and becoming more self aware can happen with or without a  guided meditation. The best approach is to do what feels best to you, while still working on being able to access a safe and calm state of mind no matter where you’re at or whether or not you have a guided meditation to help you.

Trauma and Meditation: Finding the Peace After the Tragedy

Trauma and Meditation: Finding the Peace After the Tragedy

There is an alarmingly high percentage of people who have experienced trauma.  Whether in childhood or in your current life situation,  trauma and grief are constantly associated with a person’s behavior and mental health. When we experience a traumatic event, the stress that our minds experience can completely change the way we interact with others and how we experience the world from then on.

Most forms of trauma physically change the way our brains are wired. The neural pathways in our minds form networks of reactions to specific stimuli. This can cause incredible strain on us as we struggle to live with a “new normal.”

Fortunately,  there is the hope of healing.  No matter how difficult our experiences may be, the neural networks are flexible. We can work to restore our balance and rework the connections our minds have made with the onset of trauma. And in so doing, we can gain control once more over our emotional and mental integrity.

Most forms of trauma benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy,  which is a way to help us to interrupt bad thoughts with good thoughts so that triggers and negative stimuli are not so overwhelming.  Meditation can be a great way to redirect your thoughts and gain a more masterful control over your feelings.

In utilizing meditation,  we can take the time to sit down and take a breath if we find ourselves triggered by an event that we encounter. We can carve out a “happy" place, or more importantly, a safe place in our minds away from the negative thoughts surrounding each reminder of our trauma. Mindfulness meditation is a particularly effective tool in treating PTSD and other problems that can arise with trauma.  It is a way to disconnect ourselves from the bad experiences by focusing on the present moment. In doing so we begin to redirect our brains and allow our neural pathways to form new paths away from the triggering event and toward a deeper calm.

Loving kindness meditation is also a great way to help your mind recover from the pain of trauma and abuse. If you have experienced something that has left you feeling like you are not valuable, loving kindness meditation can help you feel more comfortable with yourself and find compassion for your flaws. This way you can allow yourself to grow in a healthy and honest way.

Trauma and abuse can also leave us very angry. This is another benefit of loving kindness meditation.  This form of meditation can help us to find the capacity to forgive the unforgivable and allow ourselves to let go of past hurts and focus on a life of compassion and regrowth.

No matter what we have experienced,  considering meditation is a great step toward finding strength, peace, and healing. We can learn to forgive the harm we have endured and create a safe space where we can move forward with our lives with confidence and understanding. You can do it!

How Meditation Aids in Restful Sleep

How Meditation Aids in Restful Sleep

In today’s day and age, insomnia seems to be creeping up on a large majority of people. Insomnia can be defined as a disruptive sleep cycle, whether because of difficulty falling asleep or because it is difficult to stay asleep. Most of the time, insomnia has roots in psychological disturbances, which can make it hard for our brains to shut out our thoughts and focus on getting a good night’s rest. A lot of us tend to experience a lot of sensory input throughout the day, going from one situation to the next without really giving ourselves a chance to process what we’ve experienced.

Those unprocessed thoughts and experiences can leave our minds reeling but are forced to the backburner. The time they are most likely to surface is during our attempts to sleep, because that is the first time during the day that we have allowed ourselves to be still and quiet where our minds are able to be reflective and calm. Sleep disturbances can easily arise because of this, and insomnia is often the result.

However, there is a way to prevent and treat insomnia. With meditation, we allow our bodies the opportunity to process those overwhelming events and give ourselves a chance to reduce stress and find our equilibrium before it attempts to ambush us during the times we should be allowing ourselves to get rested up for the next day.

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Meditation is proven to help us reduce stress, which is a huge benefit when you find yourself suffering from insomnia. People who are suffering from anxiety, whether it is a disorder or not, have a tendency to lose sleep or find it difficult to gain restful sleep experiences. With the stress reduction provided from meditation, it can aid us in enjoying a more restful sleep experience.

Meditation can help us to manage anxiety symptoms throughout the day and compartmentalize our thoughts so that they are not overwhelming to us. In learning how to consciously clear our minds, we are providing ourselves with the necessary coping mechanisms we need to let go of the things that are bothering us so we can find some peace in the silence.

Even if we don’t catch ourselves dealing with the thoughts we weren’t able to process during the day as we lay down to sleep at night, they are there and the unspoken stress they cause can linger with us. But if we are able to meditate and focus on ways to better ourselves and improve our lives, then we can lay down at night knowing that things are going to improve. Insomnia is much worse when we find ourselves feeling stuck.

Fortunately, meditations, particularly mantras and mindfulness meditations, along with loving kindness meditations, are a great way of helping us to deal with stress and focus on better things. Even if we don’t know exactly where our stress is coming from. Utilizing meditation as a tool will help us to clarify those things that can cause us stress so we can begin a plan of action. Starting in the morning.

When You’re Stressed for Too Long, Your Immune System Suffers

When You’re Stressed for Too Long, Your Immune System Suffers

Stress can make it rather difficult to operate at your full potential. Obviously, it has its share of mental effects, causing you to work less efficiently, but it also has many physical effects.

One physical effect of stress that you might end up encountering is that it lowers your immune system, leaving you more prone to getting sick. If you’ve noticed yourself getting frequently sick recently, it might not just be due to allergies or a bug going around.

It could be that you’re so stressed out that your body has started give up on its own immune system, which can be extremely bad in some circumstances. Now, for your immune system to be lowered, it takes more than just one bad day.

You need to be stressed out for an extended period of time. This can be hard to identify, though. If you go long enough being stressed out, eventually you’re going to be used to that as the norm.

You might be stressed out for awhile and not even realize it after a point. By lowering your immune system, your body is open to more harmful diseases. It could be something minor like a cold or a cough, but it could get a lot worse.

Some people experience rashes or airborne diseases that require a visit to the doctor to fix, leading to more costs, which can become stressful in its own right. Getting sick can put a serious damper on your work performance.

If it’s bad enough, you might not even be able to come into work, but if you do go, you’re definitely not going to be operating at your best levels. You’ll be worried about getting other people sick if it’s contagious, and you’re going to end up getting even more stressed out.

You need to keep your stress managed so that you can avoid getting sick. What might seem harmless can turn into nausea, headaches, viruses, and more. You need to treat your body right so that you can stay healthy and happy.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have your bad days. It’s fine to have a day where you’re feeling stressed - that’s normal. However, you need to pull it together and figure out what to do next so that this feeling doesn’t continue on and take over your life.

That means regularly engaging in stress relief that’s tailored to your personal preferences. Switch it up and make sure that it’s something that soothes your mind and calms your nerves.

Your Body Continually Tries to Recover from Stress

Your Body Continually Tries to Recover from Stress

When it comes to stress and how it relates to aging, many people are afraid that just a little bit of stress can cause them to develop signs of aging and health problems. In reality, that’s not quite the case.

As an adaptation from our prehistoric days, humans have developed means of physically handling stress, but that’s only meant for short term bursts. If you have ongoing stress, then your body will always be trying to catch up, which can then lead to faster aging.

Some parts of this natural defense might be things you already recognize as signs of stress. For one, your heart rate will go up. This is because your body assumes it’s about to have to either fight or run, so it gets you all amped up and prepared.

For this same reason, you might also notice that your muscles tense up and you might even start to get twitches in your eye or muscles. These natural defenses are great for short term stress.

It gets you prepared to take on a challenge, and you’re able to do what you need to do. However, your body needs rest after that to recognize that you’re no longer stressed out and don’t need those defenses anymore.

With long term stress, you never get to that point. When you’re stressed out over a prolonged period of time, your body will be in a constant state of trying to repair itself and help you out, which ends up doing more harm than good.

Some of the defensive measures that your body puts in place can, if they don’t stop, give you signs of aging and even afflict you with physical health problems. Take, for example, the increased heart rate.

While it’s beneficial for a short burst of energy, if you have a high heart rate for awhile, you’re bound to eventually suffer from some heart complications. In some cases, this can even end up being fatal.

Another example would be the tensed up muscles. While it’s great for the fight or flight response, constant tension in your body can lead to so many physical problems normally reserved for senior citizens.

Your face will start to develop wrinkles over time from always looking worried, and your body will experience soreness and cramps more often than before. You need to take time to relax and let your body take a break from always trying to recover.

What to Do When People Are Your Primary Source of Stress

What to Do When People Are Your Primary Source of Stress

Stress comes from a variety of issues - including from people. Knowing how to deal with people who cause your stress can help you avoid the physical ramifications of having toxic individuals in your life.

These physical issues happen because of the emotional stress you deal with every time you encounter someone who makes you feel angry, sad, frustrated and more. Emotional stress is just as bad for speeding up the aging process as physical stress is.

It can cause diseases, immune system deterioration and more. You might have to deal with a friend or family member who causes you stress. It might be a coworker or someone you encounter regularly, like a neighbor.

Whoever it is, you need to learn how to deal with it to mitigate the effect on your health.

Start by identifying who the people are in your life who cause you stress. The way to tell if someone causes you stress is every time you think about being around them or you actually are around them, you have a visceral reaction.

Your stomach gets tied up in knots or you have an emotional reaction. You feel anxious or angry. People who cause stress often look at the negative in everything around them, including in you.

They always leave you feeling worn out. These people complain about how bad their life is or they compare their life to yours and tell you how lucky you are. They often tear down other people and can be subconsciously or even deliberately cruel in their comments or actions.

They don’t accept blame for anything going on in their life, but blame their friends, family, coworkers or even you. These people are always where the drama is or they’re the cause of whatever drama is going on.

They want you to be their shoulder to lean on and every time you spend time with them, you leave feeling a lot worse than when you arrived. You can put a stop to the drama that comes from other people.

Begin by going on the offensive. You already know this person or those people are going to cause you stress. Know your course of action before meeting up with them. Determine ahead of time how you’re going to handle it when the stress kicks in from being with them.

Don’t let someone else have the emotional reins in your life. People will say and do things that cause stress, but they can’t be in charge of how you respond to that stress. Only you can do that.

You can feel empathy toward someone without letting them emotionally wreck you. This usually comes from a friend who gets angry about something and leads you toward anger as well.

When someone does stress you out, don’t carry it with you. Deal with it immediately and then let go. When the topic of conversation or their actions trigger stress, either change the subject or address the actions directly. Keep your distance emotionally as much as possible and if that’s not possible, then keep a physical distance if you have to.

Laughter Really Is the Best Anti-Aging Medicine Against Stress

Laughter Really Is the Best Anti-Aging Medicine Against Stress

It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “laughter is the best medicine.” When it comes to anti-aging and stress, it’s actually quite true. Laughter does a lot of good for your body by changing around the ways that your body produces certain hormones, which can ultimately lead to less stress, fewer physical problems, and more benefits.

One huge benefit of laughter is that it makes your body slow down the production of cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for all of the bad feelings you have when you get stressed out.

Your body assumes that since you’re laughing, you must not be in any danger, and therefore you don’t need the stress hormone. This action alone cuts back on a huge amount of physical effects, such as soreness, insomnia, and more.

Laughing can help your body produce more endorphins, a positive hormone that helps make you feel excited, happy, and more active. Endorphins are crucial to dealing with stress, because they not only lighten your mood, but also help motivate you to tackle whatever it is that’s stressing you out.

By increasing the production of endorphins, you’re helping your body deal with stress and preventing any unnecessary, excessive aging. Yet another benefit of laughter is its ability to boost your immune system.

It increases antibody production and makes T cells better at doing their jobs, leading to a stronger all around immune system. Considering that stress can wear out an immune system, having something to boost it back up can be incredibly valuable, and might just prevent you from catching a virus.

Having some joy and laughter in your life is very important. Find some ways to make yourself laugh every now and then, no matter what it takes. If you frequently watch dramatic TV shows and movies, go for some comedies from time to time.

With so many different shows available, you’re bound to find something that fits your style of humor. Even if it requires you to find something silly and stupid that you wouldn’t normally think is funny, go with it.

Make some stupid jokes with your friends that you can just simply laugh at. If you make everything in life serious and complicated, you’re going to have a harder time getting through it. With all of the benefits that come with laughter, you’d be putting yourself at a disadvantage not trying to get more of it.

High Levels of Ongoing Stress Contribute to Muscle Deterioration

High Levels of Ongoing Stress Contribute to Muscle Deterioration

Cortisol is a particularly bad hormone in high quantities. It leads to a ton of health problems, from expedited aging to a lack of sleep. Two of the often overlooked problems associated with high levels of cortisol are muscle deterioration and stunted muscle growth, both of which can be highly irritating and can pose a lot of problems moving forward.

If you’re trying to work out and you’re not seeing any muscle buildup, even after many months of working out, then you might be suffering from high levels of stress. When you have too much cortisol, it starts to block off the parts of your muscles that accept protein, which can cause a lot of issues.

Protein helps your muscles grow and keeps them healthy. When you lift weights, you’re basically making a bunch of tiny rips and tears in your muscles, which protein then goes and fills in.

By filling in and building upon these tears, your muscles not only grow, but also become stronger, which is why weightlifting does what it does. By blocking your ability to take in proteins, cortisol is leaving your muscles without any good means of repairing themselves.

One key problem associated with this is soreness. Without protein, any physical activity will leave you much more sore than you usually are, because your proteins aren’t able to do their jobs.

This is why many people with high levels of stress experience things like back pain on a regular basis. This also means that you won’t really be able to get stronger if you’re trying to work out.

You’ll just become sore, and won’t see any real progress. This can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to you getting even more stressed out, creating a bad cycle to get into.

To break the cycle, you need to first address what it is that’s stressing you out. By decreasing your stress, even just for a few days, you’re allowing your cortisol levels to drop back down to where they normally are.

This gives your body time to essentially reset, reverting back to its natural levels. You can accomplish this with a few days off at home or even a vacation. Really, as long as you’re getting rest and clearing your mind, you should be able to come back from a chronic form of stress and will see better results when you return to your routine of working out.

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