As students approach finals, they may begin to feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Perhaps their lives at home aren’t going well either, and it is beginning to take a toll on their mental health. You may be wondering how you can relieve the stress that you’re experiencing. The answer could be meditation.
Although there are many ways to relieve stress, such as exercise, resting, drinking calming herbal tea, listening to music, or talking to friends, sometimes doing these things won’t do the trick. Meditation could be better for relieving stress.
“Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines,” according to an article by Matthew Thorpe on Healthline.com.
Thorpe’s article also says that meditation can help reduce the inflammation caused by these chemicals. Meditation has been proven by several studies to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also lower blood pressure. When the human body is experiencing stress, the pituitary gland releases hormones such as adrenaline, which cause your heart to speed up and blood pressure increases. If you can reduce your stress, your heart will be able to relax more.
Meditation can also improve your ability to focus. This will be helpful especially right before your exams. If you get skilled at meditating, you might also get better at studying and retaining information.
There are two different types of meditation: focused-attention meditation and open monitoring meditation. Focused-attention meditation involves concentrating on a single thing, such as a noise, thought, or object. This method is used to eliminate distractions. Open-monitoring meditation involves becoming aware of your environment and sense of self. This means letting your mind flow freely and addressing feelings that you might be suppressing.
In case you don’t know how to meditate, here is how to start:
Find a quiet, comfortable spot, maybe surround yourself with calming objects like plants.
Sit in a comfortable position, maybe with your legs crossed and your back straight.
Close your eyes or focus on one object, inhale deeply, and then exhale slowly. Focus on the sound and feeling of your breathing.
If your mind starts to wander (because it will), try and switch your focus back to your breathing. It is normal for your mind to wander after just a few breaths. This is part of learning to focus.
Do this for about two minutes or as long as you can stand it.
If you try this type of meditation and it just doesn’t work, try focusing on something else. Calming music, such as harp or flute is a good choice. Just focus on the sound and how it makes you feel. You can listen to the sounds of nature, like birds chirping or the running water in a river. Of course if you aren’t anywhere near nature, YouTube has plenty of meditation playlists you can access. If these methods still don’t help, maybe meditation isn’t for you; it doesn’t always work for everyone.
If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unable to focus, meditation might be the tool you need. Practicing meditation can prove to be very relaxing and beneficial for your body and mind.