15 Benefits of Meditation

benefits of meditation

I’ve just finished day 10 of Headspace meditation, and I’m dedicated to sticking with it! I’ll post more about Headspace and meditation apps in my next post, but first, I’m going to tell you all about the benefits of meditation.

I spent some time researching meditation, which is why I decided to try it out. There are so many good things it does for our bodies! I read articles from Emma Seppala Ph.D., Forbes, Stepping Stones Mental Health, and Headspace to compile the following.

I feel extremely relaxed immediately after meditating, but I’m not sure if I’ve experienced any long-lasting effects. Some people say they’ve noticed effects immediately, but others say it’s gradual and takes time. Just like any physical exercise, mental exercise takes time to perfect too! Some articles say it takes a couple days, some say a couple weeks, and others say a few months. I’m just being patient and looking forward to some (or all!) of these benefits listed below.

EMOTIONAL

Increases optimism and resilience in hard times

Increases life satisfaction and sense of wellbeing

Reduces self-referential thoughts (thoughts that are typically associated with being less happy)

Reduces worrying and rumination

Increases self-awareness, self-confidence, self-understanding, and self-control

MENTAL

Increases attention span to stay on task longer and switch tasks less often

Reduces mind wandering and makes it easier to focus on current task

Increases creative thinking

Improves concentration, attention, focus, memory, and cognitive skills

PHYSICAL

Reduces stress, anxiety, social anxiety, depression, and pain

Helps with addition recovery to help people effectively manage cravings

Restores a sense of calmness, balance, and peacefulness

Improves sleep quality and increases energy

RELATIONAL

Improves communication with others to increase marital/relationship quality

Improves empathy and compassion

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10 Natural Remedies to Alleviate Anxiety

Image from anandamarga.org.

Image from anandamarga.org.

Have you been feeling anxious and stressed lately? Me too, don’t worry. After scouring the Internet for ways to ease anxiety, I found lots of natural ways to help you feel more relaxed.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% of the adult population. Anxiety is characterized by nervous behaviors, such as ruminating thoughts, worries, and fears. These behaviors often cause muscle tension, poor concentration, restlessness, and fatigue.

There are many ways to treat anxiety, including counseling, therapy, prescription medication, and natural remedies. Due to unpleasant side effects of anxiety medication, many sufferers turn to natural, holistic approaches to manage their anxiety. Here are 10 natural remedies that can help ease anxiety.

Acupuncture

This ancient Chinese method restores the body’s energy force, called Qi. According to acupuncturists, Qi regulates your body’s overall health and restores balance. Acupuncture causes the nervous system to produce chemicals that jump start the body’s natural healing ability to calm your brain and relieve tension.

Chamomile

Whether you prefer chamomile tea or a chamomile supplement, this ancient medicinal herb can help to relax your blood vessels, smooth your muscle fibers, and improve your sleep, all of which contribute to anxiety relief.

Exercise

Exercise causes your brain to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Any physical activity helps, especially those that get your heart pumping and increase blood flow to your brain, such as yoga, jogging, or walking.

Deep Breathing

There are many deep breathing techniques, but they all center around the same idea: breathing deep into your abdomen. Take a slow breath in through the nose, hold for a couple seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Just a few deep breaths can have a lasting feeling of relaxation.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s are a type of essential fatty acid that promotes cardiovascular health. These fatty acids increase your brain’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is lacking in those who suffer from anxiety. Good sources of omega-3s include fish, seeds, nuts, and green, leafy vegetables.

Meditation

This relaxation technique eases anxiety by quieting overactive minds and relieving stressful thinking. Meditation helps you become more aware of the present moment, eases muscular tension, and promotes deep breathing techniques.

Lavender

This soothing oil acts as a sedative with the brain centers (amygdala and hippocampus) that regulate emotion. Just add a few drops to a hot bath, put some in an oil diffuser, or dab a tiny bit on your temples.

Sunlight

When you are exposed to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D. This allows your brain to produce more serotonin, leading to a calming effect in your body. If you are on anxiety medication, be cautious of getting too much sun. Some medications may make you more sensitive to light, so be sure to use sunblock and talk to your doctor.

Hot Bath

Not only will a hot bath allow you some time to yourself in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, but it is also a great place for some aromatherapy. Add a few drops of oil to your bath for the ultimate stress-relieving experience. Some relaxing oils include lavender, sage, rose, jasmine, and sandalwood.

Keep a Journal (or a blog!)

Set aside some time each day to document your thoughts. This helps you become more conscious and aware of your thought patterns, so you can see how thoughts cycle through your mind. It can be soothing to write and spend some quiet time reflecting.

These natural remedies should help you manage your anxiety and relieve stress. However, they might not work for everyone, so if your anxiety symptoms persist, see a doctor or counselor.

What do you do to reduce your stress and manage your anxiety? Let me know your tips in the comments! 🙂