May is Mental Health Awareness month and a great time to stop and reflect on how we are taking care of our mental health. 2020 and 2021 has been a very different year for most people. Stress for a lot of people has been at an all-time high and the need for taking care of yourself and loved ones is more important than ever. Stress has an immediate and a long term effect on people, young and old.
A simple and affordable way to address stress is meditation. Meditation can be practiced by anyone and can be practiced anywhere and does not require special equipment or tools. You can practice meditation if you are on a walk, riding the bus, waiting for an appointment or in the middle of another activity.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years by many different people. The origins of meditation were designed to deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. A more modern and common use of meditation is for relaxation and reduction of stress. During meditation, there is a focus to address jumbled thoughts that may be crowding the mind and creating stress. The result should be a process that is capable of enhancing physical and emotional well-being.
Benefits of meditation can help people with a sense of calm, peace, and balance that benefits both emotional well-being and overall health. The benefits extend beyond the meditation session and set a person up for a calmer day and help manage symptoms of certain medical symptoms. Being emotionally well is a tremendous benefit of meditation as it helps people to gain new perspective, build new skills, increases self-awareness, reduces negative emotions, and so many much more.
As we use May to bring awareness to Mental Health, let’s also use that time to work on our wellness with activities such as meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and connecting to positive people.
Steps for a Quick Meditation
Set Aside Time
- See if you can set aside at least 5 minutes to meditate.
- Find a quiet place
- Set a timer (allows you to relax and set with the preset time)
- Relaxing music is helpful.
- Link for Smart Phone Apps. § https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps
Relax Your Body
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Take a few deep breaths
- Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs.
- Slowly inhale filling your belly
- Then into ribs and chest
- Then gently hold the breath for a count of five.
- Release the breath through your mouth slowly using a five-count breath
- Reverse this process on the exhale for another count of five
- Imagine slowly blowing out a candle or dandelion.
- Slowly exhale releasing the air from your belly
- Then out of your ribs and chest
- Repeat this process a few times.
- Work on visualizing the stress leaving your body with each breath.
Using your imagination to focus on this breathing exercise as the tension leaving your body allows you to focus and become grounded in the 5 minute meditation. Reducing stress whenever possible has long term benefits!