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If you’re feeling stressed because of COVID-19, you aren’t alone. According to the World Health Organization, pandemic-related fear is widespread and is leading to mental health and substance abuse issues worldwide. Whether you’re an overworked entrepreneur or busy parent, it’s important to tackle stress — otherwise, it can increase your risk of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Read on to learn how meditation can be a powerful tool to keep stress at bay and help you reignite your spark.
How meditation improves mental and physical health
Meditation uses mantras and deep breathing techniques to focus your mental energy inward and slow down your brain. According to Psychology Today, research suggests that such mindfulness practices reduce stress. Harvard neuroscientists have found that mindfulness meditation appears to reduce the density of the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for processing stress. Medical News Today further reports that meditation has physiological impacts as it can slow down your heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
Maximize meditation’s benefits by combining the practice with movement
To make meditation even more impactful, combine it with movement. Dance and similar forms of exercise likewise rely on deep breathing as a means of pushing the body towards greater flexibility, coordination, and strength.
We Know Yoga suggests trying Yin Yoga as a starting point, for example. In this practice, you hold passive poses (like “child’s pose,” demonstrated here) for three to five minutes at a time. When you spend this long on each pose, your mind will invariably start to wander. That’s when you turn to meditation to maintain your focus.
Create a dedicated space for movement and meditation in your home
One of the best things about meditation and movement is that neither practice requires fancy or expensive equipment. You can meditate, dance, stretch, or loosen your body pretty much anytime, anywhere. Still, you can maximize the impact of your sessions by creating a dedicated space free of distractions like family, work, and school.
Set aside a quiet corner of your home and equip it with basic supplies, like a yoga mat and brick, jump rope, or small speaker system. You can also invest in some workout clothes such as yoga pants, a pair of sneakers, or high-waisted underwear, which can help motivate you to keep up with your newfound practice.
Get professional guidance to start your meditation and movement practice
If you’ve never meditated or tried a fitness class, you might be uncertain about just how to start. Don’t worry. There are programs tailored to every level. Best of all, you can easily access free resources to guide you through either practice online.
The Cut offers a comprehensive roundup of the best free yoga classes you can find on the internet, for example. Meanwhile, SELF offers a list of free meditation apps, like Calm, Inscape, and Headspace. You can use these tools to get started on your own, or seek out like-minded people and spaces for a sense of community and accountability.
When you’re first starting, you may find yourself getting frustrated. Trust in the benefits of these practices, however, and stick with them. After just a couple of weeks, you should find yourself feeling better in mind and body. Having the ability to shut down stress will serve you well both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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By Contributing Writer Stephanie Haywood of mylifeboost.com