We all experience stress in our lives. If it’s not properly managed, however, it can lead to a host of health ailments. Chronic stress can raise blood pressure by a few points in just one year, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. (High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke, and puts you at increased risk of heart disease.)
Stress is also a common trigger for people who suffer headaches. According to a 2014 study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, using natural headache remedies such as meditation reduces stress and decreases the frequency and severity of headaches.
Meditate to Reduce Stress
Meditating can help you achieve a deeper level of relaxation, improve your ability to focus, decrease stress hormones and increase productivity. These qualities are especially useful when it comes to tackling everyday tension.
There are hundreds of methods and styles of meditation. Philip Starkman, founder of Spring Rain Sangha (a nonprofit organization with meditation classes in Ontario and British Columbia), offers a quick and easy form of meditation that you can do anywhere.
1. Take 5 to 10 minutes for yourself.
2. Find a private space — you can even do it in your car while stuck in traffic.
3. Start by focusing on the inhale and exhale of your breath. Take note of whether it’s strong or soft, short or long. Focus on the pauses between breaths.
4. Next, focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen and notice how your muscles are expanding and contracting. Place your hands on your abdomen to feel your breath and keep your mind focused.
5. After a few minutes of concentrated breathing, you should notice your breath starting to slow down.
6. If it’s not slowing down, direct your attention to your breathing again. Ease your mind’s focus back to the rise and fall of your abdomen. This concentration technique brings tranquility and strengthens your concentration. Each time your mind wanders from the focal point, bring your attention back to your breathing.
7. Once you’re feeling more relaxed and at ease, ensure you continue to be aware of your breathing.