by Calodagh McCumiskey, Spiritual Earth
Stress is the epidemic of our time. 75 to 90 percent of GP visits are stress related. 22 percent of employees in Ireland are stressed all or most of the time at work. Anxiety and stress are on the increase in schools and third level institutions with 50 percent of students saying they have difficulty concentrating in class because of day to day stress.
Unhealthy stress affects everything from our sleep, to food habits, alcohol and sugar consumption, our biological age, mental and physical health, our ability to focus, our relationships – and our joy. Unaddressed, unhealthy stress can take over your life and cause a host of debilitating problems.
Meditation and Stress
Two clients of mine recently revealed to me just how stressed they were when they started meditation. One used to throw up at least once a week and feel nauseous regularly because of crippling anxiety in social situations. As a result of meditation, these symptoms are now gone and she is enjoying life and doing things she never expected to do. The other, a health professional suffered from intermittent heart palpitations as well as teeth grinding, so severe, it caused regular intense jaw pain. After a few months of meditation, both symptoms stopped and she has been pain and palpitation free for the last 3 years and fully focused on living.
Too much unhealthy stress requires lifestyle changes – not just a rest or temporary change. A two pronged approach of addressing what is causing the unhealthy stress and doing more to boost your wellbeing and feel good works effectively. There are many solutions. The most important thing is to do something and if it works to keep it up.
Exercise, meditation, changing your mindset, learning how to reduce unhealthy stress and taking action, facing your fears, CBT, yoga, tai chi, laughter, healthy food, the right supplements and avoiding or minimizing things that increase your unhealthy stress can all help. Spending more time with people you love and doing things you love are also beneficial.
From the point of view of the mind, the most important starting point is to find a way of relaxing mentally and physically that works for you on a regular basis.
Why are we so stressed?
There are many reasons people are stressed these days. Different factors stress different people. Mental and physical unhealthy stress are related and reinforce each other. Too much of certain foods, sugar, alcohol, lack of exercise and poor sleep all affect us physically and in turn mentally. Focusing too much on problems (and not solutions), worrying about things you have no control over and feeding your fear and feelings of inadequacy all add it. Even simply, ‘wanting it all’, wanting to be the perfect parent, friend and do the perfect job, getting to the gym and doing all the other things you need to do to have a ‘perfect life’ can be overwhelming and generate significant stress.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has many benefits for the mind, body and spirit – much more than simply being a very effective stress management tool. Many people start meditation to help with stress but keep it up because it brings and does so much more for you. It involves focusing your awareness on something – a sound, your breath, walking, a candle or even a mantra. Different types resonate with different people. Even a minute is beneficial. If you can build up to 20 minutes in a row, then more significant shifts come as brain chemistry starts to change.
Meditation will help you feel more connected and grounded. It will give you mental clarity and the courage to face your problems as they are and accept yourself as you are, so you get through challenges in the smoothest way. It will help you enjoy the good times more as your mind is not so taken over by the many weapons of mass distraction.
If you would like to try meditation, we are starting a new 6 week programme on September 10th from 7:30 to 9.00 pm. To book and for full details, visit here: https://spiritualearth.com/product/meditation-classes/
For further details of how our meditation programmes can benefit you, visit: https://spiritualearth.com/case-studies/
Ashwagandha is a herb from the Indian Ayurvedic tradition. It acts as a potent adaptogen i.e. it helps the body and mind to deal with stressors both physical and mental.
B vitamins are supportive of the adrenal glands. We often recommend Viridian’s High 5 B complex as it has a high dosage of vitamin B5, sometimes called the stress vitamin for its ability to bring down cortisol the stress hormone which keeps us ‘on edge’.
Magnesium is gently soothing and relaxant. Combinations of magnesium with L’Theanine (the relaxant component in green tea) and B vitamins can be very effective during periods of stress and anxiety.
Essence remedies like Australian Bush Flower Emergency Essence are gentle but effective and non addictive salves to use in stressful situations. They can be used as often as needed and come in easy to use drops or oral spray forms and don’t interact with any other medication.