5 Reasons to Make Meditation a Part of Your Self-Care Routine

March 16, 2022

If anything we have been taught for the last 2 years is that uncertainty is the new norm. And with so many things, self-care has never been more important.

It has been a challenge to create consistency and peace of mind in our daily work, finances, relationships and routines. So it is not surprising that many of us feel discouraged! One of the few favorable aspects during the pandemic has been the explosion of interest in self-care. Here’s why we should practice it and how it can improve our overall well-being.

So what exactly is self-care?

Well, self-care seems like different things to different people.

Self-care may look like this:

  • Receiving a massage
  • Take five minutes just for you in the morning while you have your coffee
  • Watercolor, paint, make art
  • Training
  • Newspapers
  • Focusing on your breathing
  • Taking a bubble bath with frothy and hot
  • Aromatherapy
  • Meditating
  • Singing your favorite songs
  • Reading
  • Reconnect with a close friend

Self-care may even seem to have a Risky Business dance montage like that of Bob Seger Vintage Rock n ‘Roll play background!

Really, self-care practices are pretty extensive! They range from personal hygiene or nutrition to socializing with friends or taking time to reconnect with yourself. In short, it is a practice Tuning in to your needs and finding a practice that will help you meet those needs. This may sound simple, but in practice, understanding your needs may be the hardest part for some of us.

Self-care, meditation

Muse recommendation for personal care

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that our favorite form of self-care here at Muse is meditation … eh! Meditation is key to developing inner clarity and helps us learn skills reduce stress and anxious thoughts. And don’t worry, there is a lot of research that supports this.

Before we explore how meditation supports anxious thoughts and stress relief, let’s take a quick look at how chronic stress and anxiety affect our health.

Stress and the body

When we are stressed or anxious, our body goes into a fight or flight survival mode and releases a hormone called cortisol. When maintained during short bursts, our body is able to recover quickly and return to normal, balanced functioning.

But when we get caught up in a cycle of chronic stress, our body gets stuck in flight or fight mode. If left unchecked, chronic stress puts our body out of balance. Over time, certain systems may become trapped in hyperexcitation.

At the same time, other “non-essential” systems (such as the immune, digestive, and reproductive systems) suffer from deviant resources. When we don’t control ourselves, we can feel out of focus, emotional, and withdrawn [1].

Because stress affects many biological processes, chronic stress can also contribute to it [1]:

  • Decreased immune system function
  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Arthritis
  • Addiction (alcohol, substances, food, gambling, etc.)
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

So if you’re wondering if it’s worth prioritizing stress relief, you’re on the right track. Stress is something we can only ignore for so long that it forces us to stop and pay attention. Fortunately, you can avoid these negative consequences of chronic stress and anxiety by making personal care a staple of your routine!

Self-care, meditation

Why choose meditation to relieve stress

The investigation has finally been brought up to date with what anecdotal evidence has suggested for years. Meditation is a restorative practice that can offer a lot of benefits. Research suggests only five minutes of meditation one day it can benefit you!

For example, consider a study that set out to explore how short meditations could affect mental health professionals. They found that just one five-minute session for seven days in a row resulted in a significant decrease in stress [2]. Another review published by Johns Hopkins University found that mindfulness meditation programs showed moderate improvements in anxiety, depression, and pain. [3].

How does meditation help you manage stress and anxiety?

Most of us recognize the popular benefits of meditation: greater focus, self-awareness, clarity, inner peace, and stress relief. This is because meditation really upsets us brain waves to cultivate different mental, emotional and physical experiences.

For example, a state of anxiety or stress is usually associated with an increase in beta brain waves and a decrease in alpha brain waves. When we learn to notice these mental states, we are better able to exploit them. Which facilitates the transition from stress to relaxation.

Also, meditation can change your brain chemistry and how your brain responds to stress!

5 reasons why meditation should be a staple of your self-care routine

1. Meditation helps us to respond better to stressful situations.

A study of the Muse found that meditation combined with neurofeedback training resulted in reductions in anxiety, stress, mental fatigue, and anger. In addition, participants experienced greater efficiency in information processing!

2. Meditation preserves the health of the brain as we age.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to explore whether brains differ between expert meditators and non-meditators. In their work, they found that meditators actually had higher volumes of gray matter [4]. Gray matter loss is a process of natural aging that is associated with cognitive decline and loss of fine motor skills. It is also linked to Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, making meditation attractive preventative method to preserve the health of your brain.

3. The effects of a meditation practice rival those of antidepressants.

This meta-study of over 18,000 studies on meditation that we mentioned earlier? The researchers also found that the size of the effect of meditation on anxiety, depression, and pain was 0.3, considered moderate. While this may seem low, it is important to note that the effect size of many antidepressants is also 0.3. This suggests that meditation may be as effective as medications for anxiety and depression [3].

4. Conscious meditation actually changes the structure of your brain.

Harvard researchers found that eight weeks of consciousness-based stress reduction increased cortical thickness in certain regions of the brain. These regions included those responsible for memory and learning (hippocampus), self-referential processing, and emotional regulation.

In addition, the fear center of the brain (amygdala) showed signs of reduction. These changes in brain structure were confirmed by self-reported experiences of decreased stress and increased calm of participants. This suggests that meditation offers a promising way to improve well-being [5].

5. Mindfulness meditation acts as a shock absorber and increases positive mental states!

A team of researchers in Sweden set out to explore the impact of mindfulness meditation among 1,000 participants. They found that conscious meditation was associated with a decrease in stress and anxiety and an increase in positive mental states.

They suggest that increased resilience and positive mental experiences result from awareness and non-reactivity to meditation-trained emotions. [6].

In short, meditation offers a great way to learn more about your inner world. In this way, it can help you train your ability to cultivate more positive mental experiences. You can combine meditation with neurofeedbacklike the Headband Muse Sfor a better understanding and comprehension of your mental states.

We are excited to announce our partnership with Jack.org!

Jack.org is an amazing charity that works to revolutionize the way we approach mental health through talks, chapters, and summits. Jack.org’s mission is to empower young adults and remove barriers to positive mental health.

As strong advocates of mental health, Muse could not have been more excited to work with Jack.org. To support their work, we have donated 100 Muse S headbands to assist in their mission to improve mental health across the country.

Learn more about how Jack.org it is changing the way we approach mental health across Canada.

More information>

References:

  1. Learn about chronic stress with Yale Medicine HERE >>
  2. Discover the impact of a five-minute meditation on mental health professionals HERE >>
  3. Read a systematic review of meditation programs for stress and well-being HERE >>
  4. Explore the UCLA study on gray matter volume and meditation HERE >>
  5. Learn about mindfulness meditation and changes in the brain HERE >>
  6. Discover the connection between mindfulness, positive moods and well-being HERE >>


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