Meditation is the process of learning a set of techniques that encourage your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
It can be used to increase your self awareness and is a way to reduce stress, anxiety or panic attacks. People who practice meditation regularly are said to benefit with a more positive mood, a better nights sleep and more self-discipline.
If you are struggling with your mental health or find that you mind wanders, guided meditations can have a positive impact to help you get back in control.
Here are our top six reasons why you should incorporate meditation practice in your daily routine.
When you get stressed, your body releases a hormone called Cortisol which can lead to a number of health issues if not kept under control.
If you often find yourself worrying and getting worked up on a regular basis, this can be very harmful both mentally and physically.
High levels of stress can effect your sleep, cause bouts of depression or anxiety, increased blood pressure, tiredness and even struggle to think properly - all of which can have a last effect on your body.
Taking just 25 minutes out of your day, three times a week to perform a mindfulness meditation session has shown to make tasks feel less stressful.
So next time you find your blood pressure rising, take some time out to relax and feel a sense of calm. Your body will thank you.
In the modern world, we’re all guilty of spending our precious downtime scrolling through social media and watching endless TV late into the night, resulting in our sleep being greatly affected.
A lack of sleep, especially REM sleep can effect your ability to make and retain memories which is even more important the older you get.
It's important to get a full 8 hours of quality sleep per night with meditation helping you to relax faster. Short sessions throughout the day or before bed will help you compartmentalise your thoughts and feelings so you can go to sleep stress free.
If you're still struggling to sleep, a weighted blanket or essential oil diffuser can help you relax after a particularly bad day.
Better workout results
Exercise can cause stress in our muscles and central nervous system, especially after a brutal HIIT or heavy lifting sessions.
Meditation can help increase the amount of rest you get by removing any mental stress you might be holding on to. With lower stress levels, you’ll be able to perform better during workouts and enjoy them that much more.
For some people, meditation lessens their sensitivity to pain meaning that you can train harder or even take on that new fitness challenge you’ve been putting off.
Create healthier relationships
Understanding your own emotions can benefit your relationships whether it’s with your partner, family members or friends. You’ll begin to feel more present which in turn allows a longer lasting harmony to form.
Short mindfulness sessions can help improve your mood and increase the amount of oxytocin released by your body when you spend time and bond with those you love.
Oxytocin can also have a positive influence on relaxation levels, trust issues and overall psychological stability. It's also shown to help reduce stress level and anxiety.
Another benefit is that it’ll help you to deal with those tricky situations with a calm and rational mindset, meaning you can avoid any unnecessary arguments with spouses or family members.
Better eating habits
We all know that eating healthier is good for us, however when we start to feel sad or upset, some of us turn to unhealthy snacks to quell our emotions.
If stress or anxiety triggers you to comfort eat, then it's worth try an alternative. Going for a walk, playing with a pet (if you have one), or doing any activity that you enjoy and that will hold your attention.
Meditation has also been proven to curb this emotional reaction and prevent binge eating. So, the next time you feel like reaching for that tub of ice cream, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts and work through the problem instead.
Manage emotions better
If you have the tendency to dwell on the little things or struggle to keep your feelings in check, then you could be damaging your health.
Once you learn to become aware of your thoughts and breathing, it’s easier to calm yourself down and deal with the present situation in a better way.
This is in turn will allow you to step away from your initial reaction and give you time to think of different way to handle it.
The more awareness you have, the less likely you are to be triggered by other people or situations especially if you struggle with social phobias or panic disorders.
With so many forms of meditation, it can be difficult to know where to start as a beginner. However, there are plenty of resources available to guide you through your journey from mobile apps to YouTube videos and even books.
We’ve picked a few of our favourite resources to help you get started on your meditation journey:
Headspace is an online platform which teaches you the essential skills of meditation and mindfulness through a variety of different techniques.
These include bite-sized sessions for when your time is limited and useful exercises to add extra mindfulness to your daily routine eg. body scan, walking meditations, and even online support groups.
Sessions last between 3 and 10 minutes with an option to set reminders. This is a useful tool to help you get used to your new routine.
You can try it free for 14 days giving you time to explore the platform and everything it has to offer before committing to the full cost.
The Mindful Minute Podcast
Podcasts have grown in popularity over the last few years and are a great source of information and discussions of topics such health, fitness and even mental wellbeing.
The Mindful Minute podcast by Meryl Arnett will guide you through simple meditations to help you get out of your own head and live in the present moment.
Mindfulness - a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
Written by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, this book is based on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and is recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
You will learn simple and practical meditations to help you control of your emotions and enjoy your time more.
There is also a CD included with additional resources as well as a downloadable app with their eight-week course to follow.
The bottom line
Meditation is something anyone can do, anywhere at any time, to improve both their mental and physical health, without the need for specialist equipment or pricey memberships.
With so many different types of meditation available, there is always a style to suit all personalities and lifestyles.
Keep an open mind when trying out meditation for the first time and try lots of different styles until you find the right one to suit you.